Re: Emoji: National Flag Symbols

From: Christopher Fynn (
Date: Mon Dec 22 2008 - 21:23:32 CST


If these things are indeed intended to indicate
language/locale then perhaps UTC should map them to a
generic FLAG character plus a plane 14 language tag.

Kenneth Whistler wrote:

> Postscript on this topic:
> The 10 flag symbols in the SoftBank and KDDI set make
> no sense whatsoever *as a set* if interpreted primarily
> as country symbols or flag symbols per se.
> What does make sense, for understanding why these 10
> and no others (while allowing for the possibility that
> everything in all of the sets was the result of
> haphazard decisions) is interpreting them as the most
> common language/locale indicator icons. I.e., the
> list really represents:

> Japanese
> U.S. English
> French
> German
> Italian
> British English
> Spanish
> Russian
> Chinese
> Korean

For "English" I'd prefer to see something like a half US half UK flag.
Few websites offer a choice between US and UK English and the
differences rarely matter.

Otherwise you eventually need Indian English, Australian English,
Jamaican English etc.

> Now *that* makes sense of a limited set of these symbols --
> it is really what you would most likely see as identifying
> language on websites, on publication lists, on other kinds
> of items for sale in Japan -- and might well be the
> original intent of this set by whoever was grabbing stuff
> for the sets in the first place.

> So while the KDDI documentation says of these things,
> literally, "Russian national flag", etc., what I suspect
> the full gloss should be is more like:
> "[This glyph is an icon of the] Russian national flag
> [standing for the Russian language/locale]."

If that is the case - where are the flags for Portugese, Arabic, Thai?

> It is a semiotic mistake here to just blandly assume that
> because the icon in question is an image of the Russian
> flag, that it is intended as a symbol *of* the flag
> per se, and that thus we are obligated to go down the
> road of international fairness and provide the opportunity
> for *everybody* to encode their flag, too, just so nobody
> is going to be miffed that their country was dissed by
> the international standard.

> Interpreting (and encoding) these 10 symbols as common
> language/locale symbols, rather than as national flags
> per se, will deal with the interoperability issue for wireless
> transmapping, will avoid the whole political rathole of
> trying to encode flags *as* flags, and will avoid the
> nonsense of trying to architect a registration scheme
> for future encoding of country flag symbols as characters.

Even if these 10 are/were intended as common language/locale symbols

a) there will inevitably be a demand for symbols to cover additional
b) people inevitably use them as national symbols.

- Chris

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