Re: Upside Down Fu character

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2012 11:49:25 -0800

On 1/9/2012 9:29 AM, Doug Ewell wrote:
> Asmus Freytag<asmusf at ix dot netcom dot com> wrote:
>>> I think "if this were encoded, I think people might want to use it"
>>> was explicitly not a reason to encode something.
>> I think you are possibly overstating this slightly.
>> As often quoted, it's a maxim intended to guard against encoding
>> characters for which there is no practical need (and which, perhaps,
>> only the proponent wishes to use as characters, while other users tend
>> to not use it in text, use graphics, etc.).
>> In particular, it seems to apply best in situation where it is the
>> *only* argument made in favor of encoding something.
> That's what I meant. Sorry if this wasn't clear. If there are other
> justifications for encoding a character, certainly they might override
> this maxim. I haven't seen any other rationale for encoding inverted-Fu
> *as a plain-text character*.
> Andre wrote:
> "Currently UPSIDE-DOWN FU may well not appear in plain printed text. I
> envisage that if UPSIDE-DOWN FU were included in Unicode then the
> situation would change. Not just in printed text but in electronic text.
> It would serve to add a new and contemporary dimension to an ancient
> tradition."
> This is the kind of speculative rationale that I thought would strongly
> lean the committees toward "no," unless a better rationale is given.

Yes, this reads rather speculative. And would not be sufficient as the
main argument if this message was in fact a character encoding proposal.

> The evidence seemed to be that inverted-Fu is used only in a decorative,
> "image-like" way, not even in traditional printed or handwritten text
> (which are not dependent on character encoding standards) as a
> character.

Well, in applying this as decoration in handwriting you'd turn the paper
upside down (or hang it upside down as someone mentioned).
> "Conceptually, it could be considered that UPSIDE-DOWN FU is more akin
> to Emoji rather than akin to a display variant of 福. Decoration
> becomes an integral part of the character. e.g.
> "

I have no beef with this statement. To me, it correctly characterizes
the iconic nature of the character as far as the discussion has provided
details on it so far. It's important to distinguish between "emoji" as
generically describing the type of symbol-inserted-in-text as opposed to
the particular set of such symbols that were proposed and accepted into
the standard a while ago.

> Emoji were encoded because they existed in mobile phone text-messaging
> systems, and people used them as if they were text, and there was a
> perceived need to interchange messages containing them. If there are
> any examples of similar usage for inverted-Fu, that might make a
> difference.

Here you are setting up an interesting conundrum.

In order to actually use a symbol in existing telecommunications, it has
to be encoded. For the particular set of emoji characters you mentioned
that was done by including them in private extensions of the Shift-JIS
character set, which then had to be supported as compatibility characters.

Certainly, you don't want to encourage the creation of more
compatibility characters... So, I think, you might want to consider
whether your line of argumentation might not have the effect of leaving
*only* that particular route open to add new emoji.

To the degree that non-digitally reproduced text is becoming the
exception (whether it's finally rendered as hardcopy or not is
immaterial), the avenues for establishing the use of new characters are
limited to digital means. Except for inserting pure images, these all
involve encoding the character somehow. Whether it's using an
ASCII-encoded symbol font, a private use Unicode character, or some
other character set. Makes no difference.

By the time you formally encode the character in Unicode you have a
trail of data that use one (or more) of the other encodings.

And both ASCII overloads as well as PUA assignments are really tricky to
migrate (or to support in a backwards compatible way - think searching
these old documents for the new character). A recognized external
encoding is almost the easiest - all you have to do is to update the
mapping tables.

Taken to its logical conclusion then, this does indeed encourage the
creation (or extensions) of non-Unicode character sets as a necessary
step to get a new character into Unicode.

But that goes against the goal of having Unicode be the sole, universal
character set.

So, be careful how you set up the process.
> "Colour is also an important component of the character. Apple have done
> a really good job with their Apple Color Emoji font and I am sure would
> make a good job of a poster style enclosed UPSIDE-DOWN FU."
> Again, this sounds to me like a strong indication that usage of the
> character is as an image, not as an element of plain text.

I see this partly as confirmation of the nature of the character (iconic
status, rather than ideograph), but otherwise just speculative musings
that are not really decisive either way (who knows what Apple will do
and why).
> A realistic (non-contrived) example of inverted-Fu used in inline text
> would be helpful here.

Same caveat wrt to compatibility characters applies as above.

I've written before that I don't have an opinion on the merits here,
because I don't know the details (and there hasn't been an actual
comprehensive proposal that I could review).

Received on Mon Jan 09 2012 - 13:55:10 CST

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