The Italian hand gesture for “WTF” and other new emojis that make the 2020 cut

The Unicode Consortium – that conglomerate which sets the world standards for text and emojis – has shared 117 new emoji to be released throughout 2020. Interestingly, trans and multicultural themes mostly making the cut.

Among the new illustrations are an Aboriginal boomerang, a Russian babushka doll, a cool set of ninjas, men wearing wedding veils, a transgender flag, and a rainbow-coloured llama-shaped pinata (very important!).

But what this Italian/Australian writer finds most innovative is the new emoji for that Italian hand gesture that translates into “What The Fuck!”.

Also known as the hand-sign for “I don’t know what the hell is going on”, “Who knows?” or the simple “bo” in Sicilian, the hand gesture looks like it will be popular with Baby Boomer Italians who are only just getting their mitts on their first mobile phones, and their Gen X and Y offspring who will surely be using it in irony.

The pinched fingers – generally expressing confusion, disbelief or rejection – come in different skin tones for full multicultural effect. It’s interesting to note, by the way, that Israelis also use the hand gesture, but to mean “hang on/be patient/just a minute.”

Originating in Japan in 1999, emojis became massively popular in the greater world at the beginning of the 2010s, having been added to several mobile operating systems.

A couple of years back there was even the release of The Emoji Movie, an animated feature that “delved into the secret world inside your smartphone”, featuring a turd emoji on its poster art. That alone ought to have signaled that, yes, the film was shit.

Still, we can’t help loving much of the other symbols that fill up our iPhones and Android devices.

Antonino Tati


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