Later today, the Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Pope Francis will come to the United States. In honor of the honorable priest’s stateside tour, Twitter is rolling out new emojis.
That’s right. Pope emojis are here.
Twitter users can view the emojis using the four hashtags: #PopeinUS, #PopeinDC, #PopeinNYC, #PopeinPhilly. An ideograph of Pope Francis in front of the U.S. flag, the U.S. Capitol, the Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Bell is then respectively dropped into the tweet.
The debut of the papal pictographs marks another point in the growing use of emoji. As the global number of smartphone users increases 42% a year, so too does the number of people “speaking” emojii. Emoji use has grown so much recently that the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that regulates the coding standards for written computer text, announced 250 new emoji last year. There’s even an entire site — Emojipedia.org — that tracks emoji updates and announcements.
So many people have begun using emoji so extensively that some begin to postulate it’s a new language. In February 2013, the Library of Congress accepted Emoji Dick, a translation of Herman Melville’s classic novel into emoji.
At the same time, the approximate 800 emoji that can be used are not enough to really make up a language. A proficient speaker of Japanese, which also uses ideographs called kanji, can recognize about 2,000 characters, and combine them to make a vocabulary of 10,000 words.
Regardless of whether or not emoji will become the language of the future, the new pope emoji are — if anything — a pretty cool way to celebrate the Bishop of Rome’s arrival in the states.
According to his schedule, the pope is set to arrive in the U.S. at 4 p.m. today, and will head to the White House tomorrow morning.