RE: Emoji: National Flag Symbols

From: Phillips, Addison (
Date: Tue Dec 23 2008 - 00:32:33 CST

> Christopher knows how to hit me where I live. Of course, the plane
> 14
> language tags (which have now been formally deprecated) were a
> favorite
> of mine, the direct opposite of this set of 600-odd cartoons of
> crying
> faces and fish cakes with swirl design and piles of poop which I
> don't
> think are characters but which will soon be added to the Universal
> Character Set.

The irony is beautiful, isn't it?

> > 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.
> The best representation for "English" is the letters "en", whether
> rendered as individual text letters or in a blue box or in
> pulsating
> animation or whatever. If necessary, for American English you can
> use
> "en-US", for Jamaican English "en-JM", and so forth. National
> flags are
> a popular but poor way to represent languages.

I... disagree. The string "en" is a wonderful way to identify language (and/or locale) to your software. It is not, necessarily, a wonderful way to identify it to users. And that string, as an identifier, breaks down once the list becomes arbitrarily long or if one shifts one's focus to languages less well-known. The best way to represent language or locale or region to users depends on the application and its decisions regarding content segmentation. If you have but one flavor of English, then you can safely tag it as "en" or "English" or maybe even "waving American/British flag icon". If you differentiate on local language variation (or tax rate or price or spelling or...), then you need something more.

I strongly favor using BCP 47 inside software. But the user representation is rarely the BCP 47 tag and for good reason too.

> >> "[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?
> The Japanese phone vendors simply chose not to include them. That
> is
> just one indication of the arbitrariness of the combined or
> individual
> emoji repertoires, a point made by Ed Trager.

I admit to hating, outright, the emoji sets. They are arbitrary, fashion-driven, ASCII-derived, impolitic, junky, obscene... and they are being used in text as text. If IBM invented the "box drawing symbols" tomorrow, I would probably be equally outraged... but probably would end up having to support their encoding and for similar reasons. So I'm not wild about it, but am accepting of it. My concern is that there is no end to potential iconic junk in the world. On the other hand, if font support were better, I'd probably use a lot more of U+2615.


Addison Phillips
Globalization Architect -- Lab126

Internationalization is not a feature.
It is an architecture.

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