Re: Emoji: emoticons vs. literacy

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Thu Jan 08 2009 - 14:26:47 CST

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    Mark Davis wrote:

    > If you look at the provisional representative glyphs in the charts at
    >, you
    > find that none of them are distinguished by color.

    Although the “Symbol” column contains black and white images—which are in
    many cases just made-up drawings with little resemblance to the emoji images
    in actual use—, the real emoji are colored and partly animated. The color is
    not essential in all cases, but, for example, the blue heart, confusingly
    named BLACK HEART, is in reality distinguished by its color from other
    heart-like symbols.

    The “Symbol” column images are “representative” only in the sense that one
    symbol may represent another symbol, e.g. S/ may by convention represent $.
    The images might illustrate that one can simulate the use of colors when
    limited to black and white, to some extent and maybe just by assumed
    convention. The symbols themselves are apparently meant to have color as an
    essential property.

    The chart also illustrates that many of the proposed “characters” are just
    ideas of icons. For example, the images purported to represent glyphs for
    this character are just very different iconic symbols for a dog, i.e.
    expressions of the idea of a dog as a stylicized image of a dog. I don’t
    there’s nothing else in common for them, and the “representative glyph” is
    just a made-up image that is much more naturalistic than the simpler iconic
    images actually used. And in fact, the different images don’t even express
    the idea of a dog consistently. I don’t see much benefit in treating three
    images as different glyphs for a DOG when one of them looks like a fox to
    me, the second one like a cat, and the third one expresses the idea of a
    puppy (or a puppy’s head) more than anything else. Someone else surely has
    different intuitive or other understanding. If consistency of information
    encoding means that these are interpreted as being one character, one unit
    of written information, then please don’t give us such consistency.


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