Translation from language to another comes in many shapes and forms and sometimes can be used in ways that could only work in the year 2015. One man has created a (successful) Kickstarter campaign to fund the translation of literary classic Moby Dick, and that would be completely normal and rather uninteresting if the target language for the translation included actual words. On the contrary, this campaign is turning Ishmael’s battle on the high seas into an emoji-filled adventure.


‘Emoji Dick’. All 6,438 sentences of one of the greatest books of all time have officially been translated into emojis and compiled into one serious looking book. The creator of this campaign, Fred Benenson, hired people off of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk freelance program and these workers spent nearly 4 million seconds (more than 1,000 hours) to produce such an incredible work.

What makes this story so interesting – besides the fact that it’s Moby Dick in emojis, which is awesome – is how Benenson’s campaign expanded the horizons of the translation world. Translating a literary text is no longer limited to the confines of source language into target language but rather from one form of communication into another.

The year 2015 is all about memes, selfies, emojis; essentially expression of one’s self beyond words. Emoji Dick represents that – the ability to enjoy such an incredible part of culture and literature through a fun and expressive millennial form of text. I think it’s great.


Can you read Moby Dick using only emojis?

In fact, Benenson could be onto something. Could translating books into emojis help children read heavier stories at an earlier age? Would the pictures and intuitive creativity of full sentences expressed in several images create smarter minds? It’s definitely possible, and this could be the beginning of an entirely new trend in literature and translation.

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