Ah, French people. We can finally rest assured that they are, in fact, better lovers than the rest of us.
That’s because a new report breaking down emoji use by country and language found that hearts make up 55% of emoji typed by French speakers. That’s four times the international average, and three times as much as the next most “heart-y” language. By contrast, hearts account for a mere 8% of US English speakers’ emoji use.
The report was issued by SwiftKey, a technology firm best known for making a keyboard that learns its users’ habits. Its conclusions are based on one billion pieces of emoji data collected between October 2014 and January 2015 from SwiftKey Cloud’s Android and iOS users, representing 16 languages and regions around the world.
Since there are more than 800 emoji characters, the company divided them into 60 categories. All those red, blue, purple, yellow, and green hearts, along with the vibrating, swirling, and sparkling ones, were characterized simply as “hearts.” Whenever an emoji could potentially fit into more than one group — like the smiling face with heart-shaped eyes — it was assigned to the broadest one (“faces”). Other groupings include “cats,” “tech,” and “food,” though Asian food, possibly overrepresented among emoji characters, got its own label.
The results seem to reinforce a few other cultural stereotypes as well. French speakers, though amorous, are often considered rude — and lo and behold, they are the only people for whom the smiley face (sometimes used to indicate an approving tone in a message that could otherwise be misread) doesn’t dominate. Australians, sometimes thought to be wilder and rowdier than English speakers from other continents, send 50% more alcohol-related and 65% more drug-related emoji than average. Use of the winking face in the UK, a nation known for its droll humor, is double that of the rest of us.
The report also cuts through a few stereotypes. Canadians scored highest in the use of emoji the authors note might be more typically associated with the US — ones fitting into the categories of “money,” “raunchy,” “sport,” and “violent” (i.e. those creepy gun emojis and poop). For their part, speakers of American English employ twice as many “royal” emoji (crowns, princesses, and the like) than those who speak the Queen’s English.
Other findings seem fairly logical: Russian speakers rely twice as much on cold-weather emojis than average, and Arabic speakers, perhaps craving a bit more greenery, avail themselves of flower and plant emoji at four times the normal rate.
But it’s probably best to not draw any serious conclusions from the report. Faces still remain the most ubiquitous characters, making up 60% of all those sent anywhere. And the fact that Brazilians sent twice as many religious emoji as everyone else doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more spiritual, since characters like praying hands and church buildings still made up only 1.1% of Brazilian emoji use. Similarly, people in the US sent more LGBT emoji than those in other countries, but rainbows and same-sex couples were just .13% of all the emoji used by Americans.
What to make of the fact that crying faces comprise a full 20% of emoji use by US Spanish speakers? They were also apparently the most unhappy emoji users, with negative characters making up 22% of all emojis they typed, compared to the international average of 15%.
Maybe they just wish they could emoji like Malaysians do. Of all emoji users, people in Malaysia are the most savvy. They employ only 37% of the top 10 emojis internationally, which means they make frequent use of all those random ones the rest of us don’t know what to do with.
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