Emoji zodiac signs (e-02B ... e-037): Symbolic and pictorial variants

From: Karl Pentzlin (karl-pentzlin@acssoft.de)
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 07:48:09 CST

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    The current version if the Emoji table
    ( http://www.unicode.org/~scherer/emoji4unicode/snapshot/full.html
      as of 2009-01-06).
    shows that the characters from KD?DI are pictorial, while the
    characters from the other two sources (DoCoMo and SoftBank) are
    symbolic (like the Unicode reference glyphs for U+2648 ... U+2653).

    In the current Emoji table, these characters are nevertheless unified
    with the generic Unicode characters U+2648 ... U+2653
     (with the exception of e-037 OPHIUCHUS where an according generic
     Unicode symbol is not yet encoded but is possibly to be unified with
     U+2695 STAFF OF AESCULAPIUS, but this is another subject).

    Does this unification serve the need of the users of this emoji signs?

    I understand that the proposal is driven by the needs of the search
    engine suppliers (Microsoft, Google, etc.). For these, the unification
    may be appropriate, as somebody searching for CAPRICORN will usually
    expect to find occurrences of U+2651 as well as occurrences of any
    variants of e+034.

    But the users are those who will include an emoji in their text (SMS,
    e-mail, HTML page, ...), and those who are to read this.
    Unicode (if it encodes emoji at all) has to serve these users in the
    first line. The needs of search engine suppliers, while in no case to
    be disregarded, are secondary to this.

    When a user wants to include a nice picture of a capricorn's head
    like KDDI's #201 in his message to express his coolness (or whatever)
    he associates with such an expression of his zodiac sign:
     Would he consider it OK if, without giving him the control over this,
     a black-and-white abstract sign will be displayed on the screen of his
     recipient, who possibly does not know to decipher this abstract sign,
     and who in no case will see the "coolness" or whatever the sender
     wanted to express by selecting the picture?

    When a user uses the picture of a lion (e-02F, KDDI #196) based on its
    appearance in contrast to a picture of a tiger (e-01C0), does he want to
    see the recipient an abstract black-and-white LEO symbol besides the
    tiger head?
    Surely no.

    Thus, the unification of the pictorial zodiac signs of KDDI with the
    abstract ones of DoCoMo/Softbank or the generic ones of Unicode is wrong.

    - Karl Pentzlin

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