Re: Emoji: Public Review December 2008: e-1DE CHINESE ZODIAC DRAGON

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Wed Mar 11 2009 - 05:09:57 CST

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    On 11 Mar 2009, at 01:10, Kenneth Whistler wrote:

    > How that calendrical system is translated into Kazakh or Vietnamese,
    > and what
    > symbols may then be associated with them is a matter for empirical
    > research -- and there may well be additional sets of symbols to
    > encode as a result.

    There are, indeed.

    > But to assert that the emoji pictographs for various animals *are*
    > the Chinese Zodiac signs would just be bizarre.

    In what way? The whole set is there in the phones. There are
    additional animals, but what does that matter?

    > If people want to make use of cutesy animal symbols *from* the emoji
    > set to represent Chinese Zodiac signs in some context where they
    > can't use (or understand) the actual Chinese Terrestrial Branches,
    > then nobody is going to stop them, of course.

    Well, now, that's a fairly Úlitist comment. Most people at least
    outside of China lack your personal erudition in this matter, perhaps.
    That doesn't mean a RABBIT isn't a RABBIT. What possible benefit could
    there be to distinguish RABBIT from ZODIAC RABBIT?

    >>>> It does not matter what Japanese telecoms are using them for.
    >>> Actually, it does.
    >> Asserting this does not make it so.
    > Well, no more than asserting the opposite makes it so.

    In what way does the source of the SHAMROCK being an Icelandic
    dictionary restrict its use (as a character encoded in the UCS) to
    Icelandic lexicography? It doesn't.

    In what way does the source of the RABBIT or the NO SMOKING SIGN being
    characters in use by three Japanese telephone companies restrict their
    use (as a character encoded in the UCS) to text messaging?

    The reason the UTC wants to encode these symbols is their current use
    in telephony. Their appearance in the Universal Character Set however
    will have nothing to do with telephony: they will become dingbats just
    like any other, available for use for any purpose.

    It seems extremely foolish

    >>>> It must be understood that once any of these characters are
    >>>> encoded, they CEASE to be "emoji" symbols,
    >>> No, they don't.
    >> Oh yes, they do, and I really hope you take this concept on board
    >> if you want success encoding these characters in WG2.
    > Oh no, they don't. lol

    I would like to suggest that you not to be so dismissive of my
    comments, Ken. I don't want a fight about this. I'll give one if
    necessary. MANY people on this list and others have objected to
    encoding ANY of these emoji symbols. I have chosen to support their
    encoding. I have also chosen to look at the characters in the context
    of the International Standard, not just as a pile of undifferentiated

    The UTC cannot expect the emoji set to "sail in" without comment or
    alteration or discussion or emendation or addition. You're asking a
    lot to have 600 controversial characters encoded. There are political
    ramifications to such a request, and dismissiveness is not going to be
    an effective tactic.

    >> The reason the UTC is requesting these symbols maybe
    >> interoperability with a particular environment, but EVERY ONE of
    >> those characters will simply be a pictographic symbol in
    >> the standard, available for any use, not restricted to cellular
    >> telephony.
    > I didn't say they would be restricted to cellular telephony. Of
    > course they wouldn't be. I said they wouldn't cease to be emoji
    > symbols.

    How many symbols used in emoji character sets were unified with
    existing characters? Lots and lots of them. Emoji is a context, it's
    not a defining essence. One uses the Latin letters A-Z in SMS
    messages. In some places, people are able to use hearts and sushi
    rolls and rabbits in their SMS messages. Evidently I'll be able to do
    this on my iPhone once emoji aren't PUA any more. But I'll also be
    able to use sushi rolls and rabbits in other text contexts, just as I
    can use Zapf hearts now.

    There's no such thing as an "emoji symbol". There are symbols, which
    might be used in the context of Asian SMS telephony, but those symbols
    have no internal emojicity that defines them.

    > Your claim was as absurd as claiming that the Optical Character
    > Recognition symbols at U+2440..U+244A cease to be Optical Character
    > Recognition symbols, once they are encoded in the UCS and become
    > "available for any use."

    It's a RABBIT, Ken. It's not an EMOJI RABBIT. OCR characters can only
    have one use. Your analogy isn't very good.

    >> As such, they must be considered in that wider context.
    > Sure. I have no problem with considering things in a wider
    > context. ;-)

    Then what is wrong with

            * used in Chinese astrology

    >> Oh, come on. Not "whatever they think they should mean". The FIRE
    >> ENGINE is not ambiguous as to its meaning.
    > Of course it is... just like virtually every one of the pictographic
    > symbols. It might represent, for example, the fire truck itself, or
    > the map location of a fire house, or the concept of firefighting, or
    > be extended semantically to refer to a class of emergency vehicles.
    > You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how people can
    > manipulate visual symbols to mean different things.

    Why not annotate the FIRE ENGINE as
            * fire station

    I really haven't been suggesting anything more than we've done for
    other symbols.

    >> Nor is a RABBIT.
    > Same thing. It is a cute little bunny rabbit? A hare? A symbol of
    > Easter? A symbol of fecundity? A zodiacal sign?

    I think
            * used in Chinese astrology
    is a good idea, since the whole range of astrological animals is right
    there anyway.

    >> The Chinese Zodiac makes use of a rabbit
    > Well, no. It's actually the Asian hare, Lepus brachyurus, different
    > from the European hare, Lepus europaeus, and more specifically
    > different from the European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus.

    Good gods. What is your point? Which Linnaean name fits the RABBIT
    being proposed?

    >> and I really don't think it's a stretch to expect an encoded RABBIT
    >> to be used for that purpose -- or that it would be better to encode
    >> a different rabbit pictogram for the
    >> zodiacal use.
    > Well, on that general point I would be in (guarded) agreement.


    > If somebody wants a nice cuddly set of 12 animal symbols to
    > represent the Chinese Terrestrial Branches with pictographs of their
    > associated animals, then making use of the emoji set of cuddly
    > animal pictographic symbols would be fine with me.

    That's what has been suggested.

    > In that context, then you would need to understand that:
    > RABBIT --> hare/rabbit, associated with Terrestrial Branch 4
    > MOUSE --> rat/mouse, associated with Terrestrial Branch 1
    > COW --> ox/cow, associated with Terrestrial Branch 2
    > CHICKEN --> rooster/hen/chicken, associated with Terrestrial Branch 10
    > Then you're fine.

    Actually I think that is too limiting, for reasons that will become
    plain when a forthcoming document is available.

    By the way, "cuddly" is irrelevant to character identity. UTC has
    proposed RABBIT, not CUTE BUNNY.

    >>> But such use is buyer-beware when picked out of sets encoded for
    >>> other purposes.
    >> What are you on about?
    > That if you pick and choose some other set of denotations for
    > symbols encoded for a different purpose, you may run into
    > trouble, both in terms of range of supported glyph variation
    > and in terms of other people's interpretations of the symbols.
    > It just comes with the territory.

    It seems that the selection of animals in the emoji sets covers
    Chinese astrology.

    >> I read the emoji animal set as a superset, which contains within it
    >> the animals used in Chinese astrology. I don't think that's a
    >> stretch, and indeed I'm not the only one who noticed.
    > Well, it isn't any big coincidence, since the 12 Terrestrial
    > Branches are, of course, associated with 12 of the most culturally
    > prominent and iconic animals in Chinese culture (including the
    > dragon, of course).
    > I just think its a stretch to claim that they are intended
    > as a denotational subset of the emoji referring specifically to
    > Chinese
    > zodiacal signs.

    With both PIG and BOAR? I don't.

    Michael Everson *

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