Today marks the celebration of World Emoji Day and the official release of the first dictionary between Emoji and Khmer.
EmojiWorldBot, a free tool built for popular instant messaging platform, Telegram, allows users to retrieve emojis with terms that are available in more than 70 languages.
As the Unicode Consortium, a system that decides what emojis will be approved for telephone and computer operating systems, had to be expanded and improved on, an international team worked together to create the bot. The team designed fun games with the bot that would increase the size and quality of its language information. In the first game, players have to match an emoji to the right word. For example, labelling an egg emoji with the word “egg”.
The next version of the EmojiWorldBot will include a game that uses emojis to find direct translations among all the languages in the system. “Right now, translation among languages usually gets mixed up with English as the middleman,” said Martin Benjamin, director of the Kamusi Project Global Online Living Dictionary at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne. “With emojis, we can eliminate the confusion that English adds between [similar emojis], a cup for drinking and a cup for winning a sports event.” Martin is the designer of the complex underlying data model of this bot.
The greater the amount of links verified by players, the more intelligent the bot becomes. Soon, it will enable Khmer speakers to translate accurately to any language they choose.
Johanna Monti, a professor of foreign language teaching at “L’Orientale” University of Naples, specialises in machine translation. She pointed out that no translation tool exists between most languages. “For World Emoji Day, we are opening the platform to 50 more languages from around the world,” she explained. “The emoji bot will be the first effective technology for communicating among speakers of more than 120 languages.”
Sina Mansour, the programmer who implemented the data structure, said: “Our tool makes it easier to speak together in a friendly universal language. [A heart emoji] tells the same message to someone whether they speak Arabic or Hebrew. As a Persian speaker in Iran, I am happy that I can now use EmojiWorldBot to talk with people all over the world for the first time, including speakers of Khmer.”
Currently, the plan is to drive more people to use the bot and boost its language system. “The next step is for the public to use the bot and help make it better,” said Benjamin. “The more people who play the games, the more accurate translations we can offer them between Khmer and any other language. And, we think everyone will have fun using the bot to find and share their emojis and their words.”
A free account on Telegram is all it takes to use the bot. It can be installed as an app or used from a web browser. To use EmojiWorldBot, type “emojiworldbot” in the Contacts search box. Alternatively, users can visit https://telegram.me/emojiworldbot to get started.