Apple devices suggest woozy face emoji for stammering

Many Apple devices are auto-suggesting the woozy face emoji when a user types the word ‘stammering.’ This is a term for a condition more commonly known as stuttering.

A British charity for designed to support those who stammer has described the link between the emoji and the word as “demeaning and damaging” …

Stammering or stuttering is defined as a neurological condition that makes it physically hard to speak.

Someone who stammers will repeat, prolong or get stuck on sounds or words. There might also be signs of visible tension as the person struggles to get the word out.

The Unicode list of emoji’s only keywords emoji number 58 as “woozy face,” so it does appear that the suggestion for the word “stammering” comes from Apple.

STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, says it has received hundreds of reports about this, for both iPhones and iPads.

Hundreds of you have contacted us to tell us that a ‘woozy face’ emoji automatically appears on iPhones and iPads when typing the word ‘stammering’ into messages.

The emoji features a yellow face with a crumpled mouth and a cockeyed expression […]

STAMMA CEO Jane Powell said in a press release, “This is demeaning and damaging. Stammering is how some people talk. Treating it as a joke is stigmatising. It can leave people embarrassed about how they sound, bullied and ashamed which can affect their mental health, careers and relationships.”

It isn’t clear why this is taking place, as it doesn’t affect every iPhone or Apple device, but members have reported it on the iPhone 5s, 7, SE, 11, XR, 12 Pro Max and on iPads.

The most likely explanation is that this is algorithmic, iOS noting the emoji people select when typing particular words, and then auto-suggesting the most common choice. The suggestion is not made when typing “stuttering.”

STAMMA is encouraging members and supporters to report it via Apple’s feedback page.

Please check your Apple phones and devices and if you find this occurring, register feedback on the Apple website. Select the relevant hardware product, and put “Inappropriate emoji” in the subject line and select “Other” under Feedback Type. In the message, please cite complaint case ID 101412774805.

The charity says its mission is to support anyone who stammers in the UK and tackle the stigma, ignorance, and discrimination that people who stammer face so that they can live their lives in full and with dignity.