This segment originally aired Feb. 10, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
In the U.S., the “OK” hand emoji serves as a symbol of agreement. But don’t use it in Brazil unless you’re feeling contemptuous: It’s roughly the same as flipping the bird.
That’s why the global firm Today Translations is looking to hire an emoji translator, whose primary responsibilities would include translating emoji and reporting monthly on usage trends. With emoji increasingly showing up in everything from ad campaigns to legal cases, understanding what the language means, especially across different cultures, is becoming a valuable skill.
As of early February, 500 people had already responded to Today Translations’ job posting. Take an excerpt of the same translation quiz each applicant had to complete below to check your own fluency in emoji.
VICE News correspondent Mary H.K. Choi also traveled to London to interview Today Translations’ CEO and founder, Jurga Zilinskiene, who said there’s a real market for emoji fluency.
“It is more about social behavior,” Zilinskiene said in the company’s London headquarters. “It is about understanding whether you’re using a specific emoji in the right context, but it is an emerging area of confusion.”