Emojis have changed the way American families speak to each other. Words have been replaced by smiley faces and digital pictures that describe almost any situation.
In fact, emojis have affected our language so much that they’ve made us less emotional, which New Republic’s Alice Robb wrote about in July. Though emoticons and emojis offer people a chance to show their moods, they don’t always describe the full extent of one’s feelings and leave out some important context, Robb wrote.
“You couldn't communicate only with emoticons,” linguist John McWhorter told New Republic in an email. “You have to know what you're talking about, what happened, when, and so on. Emoticons don't do that.”
Still, other experts believe emojis enrich America’s language — allowing people to not only describe situations, but include a picture that underlines one’s mood.
“It's a recurrence of a very old impulse,” linguist Ben Zimmer told New Republic. “I don't see it as a threat to written language, but as an enrichment. The punctuation that we use to express emotion is rather limited. We’ve got the question mark and the exclamation point, which don’t get you very far if you want to express things like sarcasm or irony in written form.”
Emojis also have the power to express the culture of an entire state. In fact, Swiftkey, a company that creates keyboard apps, analyzed data from across America to find which emojis are most popular in every state.
Some states, it turns out, embrace family and faith values in their most popular emojis, according to the United States of Emoji report.
Here’s a look at five states that use faith- or family-oriented emojis most often.
Wisconsin’s most popular emoji is the church, according to the report. Other popular emojis include the smiley face with a halo and bread, both of which may refer to church services and religion.
One of Mississippi's popular emojis is the prayer hands symbol. Though this emoji’s true meaning has been debated in recent years, pop culture tends to use it for religious or spiritual connotations.
Oregon hits on both faith and family with its popular emojis. The most popular emoji is the Jewish star of David, even though Jewish believers make up 1 percent of the state’s population. The baby image is also a popular emoji in the state.
South Dakota may be the most family-friendly state of them all. The most popular emoji is the mustached dad, with the son, home, soccer ball and dog also ranking high in the state.
For a better look at which emojis families are using, we created this slideshow of the most popular emojis in the 15 best cities to start a family, combining the Swiftkey report and a 2014 WalletHub report.
For more on which emoji your state uses the most, view the map below and read the full report from Swiftkey.
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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.