Re: Emoji: emoticons vs. literacy

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Mon Dec 29 2008 - 16:27:37 CST


if you adopt the convention of entering ZWNJ to prevent 8) from being
displayed as an emoticon, then you are putting the burden on the user
who intends the ordinary meaning.

Also, I'm not sure that English has the same rules about ligatures not
crossing internal boundaries in composite words as German has. So your
example may or may not be apropos.

I like to see the ZWJ/ZWNJ limited to ligature control in Latin and not
overloaded to become a general compositing mechanism. The reason is that
in all languages using the Latin script, even where ligatures are
prohibited in certain context or mandatory (cf. Fraktur and the ch ligature),
users have no trouble recognizing mistaken use of them as mistakes and
can easily determine what the correct text would have been.

Whereas, when you render (7 - 8) with an emoticon, only very adept users
will know that the underlying text is "8)". That's what makes the
ASCII fallbacks for emoticons more like mini-markup, and different from


On 12/29/2008 5:38 AM, Werner LEMBERG wrote:
>>> Sorry, I cannot follow the logic. If some software turns 8) into a
>>> small image, then this is either an error or intentional
>>> behavior. In this case, it is probably intentional, and the
>>> question arises whether and how the feature can be switched off by
>>> users; but this a practical software issue (which would equally
>>> exist if the characters were turned into an emoticon character).
>> The problem stems from the fact that in this kind of scenario 8) is
>> no longer unique in the encoding sense. In order to determine
>> whether text containing 8) intends to encode the digit eight
>> followed by the close paren or in fact intends to encode an emoticon
>> you now need out of band information. Requiring out of band
>> information for text content is certainly not ideal. Therefore, if
>> there were dedicated character codes for emoticons (especially those
>> using short, and therefore commonly occurring strings of punctuation
>> marks as fallbacks) the ability to used them as a unique way to
>> encode common emoticons would be a definite benefit.
> Hmm. Isn't this the same issue as having a word like `shelfful' where
> there shouldn't be an `ff' ligature? The recommended practice, AFAIK,
> is to insert one of those cute zero-width Unicode markers to prevent
> it... I don't see an immediate need for a character code just to
> resolve this particular issue.
> Werner

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