Smiley-happy Italians grin more online: study

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Emoji photo: Shutterstock
13:36 CEST+02:00
The economy may be in the doldrums but Italians still have plenty to smile about, at least when it comes to messaging.

An extensive study of emoji-use around the world appears to confirm, as well as dispel, a few of the stereotypes about Italy - notably that they are generally happy souls, but perhaps not as romantic as one might have thought.

Italians like to smile a lot, at least if emoji usage is anything to go by.

In fact, analysts at Swiftkey, a company that makes smartphone keyboards, found that Italian speakers use the 'smiley face' emoji to express their sentiments almost twice as much as the less-happy French, and also more than the sunny Spaniards.

[Note, an emoji is any kind of pictograph used in instant messaging - made popular in Japan.]

They also use the 'sad face' emoji more sparingly than Spanish speakers.

The report also dispels the myth about the Italians being romantic: less than 20 percent use the heart icon, compared to almost 60 percent of their French counterparts.

And Italians don’t really speak with their hands as much on instant messaging as they do in real life, with less than ten percent using hand gesture emoji.

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Experts at Swiftkey were able to track private and public emoji use through what users type in text, Twitter and other messages. 

The study went through more than a billion emoji used by people speaking 16 different languages worldwide between October 2014 and January 2015.

Analysts organized the emoji into 60 different categories, such as happy faces, romantic, money and raunchy.

The most popular emoji worldwide were happy faces, sad faces, hearts, hand gestures and romantic ones. Reading materials, like books and newspapers, were the least used overall.

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