By Olivia B. Waxman
March 10, 2014

Internet users who send GIFs — animated photos — to each other all day long may actually be speaking another language, researchers say.

Quartz reports that Travis Rich and Kevin Hu, graduate students at the MIT Media Lab, are exploring what emotions people associate with popular GIFs through the website GIFGIF, which “currently indexes 3214 gifs.” Their goal is to create a “text-to-GIF translator,” Hu told Quartz: “I want people to be able to put in a Shakespearian sonnet and get out a GIF set. You could reverse-engineer it and use a GIF to find a movie that fits a certain mood.”

Since launching on Mar. 3, the researchers have said that the site averages 15,000 users who vote about 10 times daily.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before grade schools offer courses in French, Spanish, and GIF.

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