Re: Emoticons (was: Root and fraction (2 new symbols))

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Sun Oct 14 2007 - 01:44:08 CDT

  • Next message: Jukka K. Korpela: "Re: Emoticons (was: Root and fraction (2 new symbols))"

    Philippe Verdy wrote:

    > I don't know why you think that emoticons and dingbats are identical.
    > They differ greatly in their usage, notably a dingbat doesnot express
    > the intention or feeling or emotion of the writer.

    Any symbol can express intentions, feelings, or emotions, and any symbol may
    appear without expressing anything like that.

    > Emoticons [are a] form of ideographic script

    I think you are trying to say that they are iconic, i.e. their shape
    resembles the thing that they are supposed to represent. For example, an
    emoticon - whether the SMILING FACE character or the two-character symbol
    :-) - is supposed to be an image of a smiling face (and thereby indirectly
    represent whatever a smiling face stands for, which is actually very
    ambiguous). Actually, the "-icon" part of the name "emoticon" describes this
    well, but the "emot-" part is more vague.

    Anyway, icons can be encoded as characters if they are used in texts. Most
    icons aren't.

    Dingbats are images that have been included into some fonts without making
    them characters, though some of them have later been encoded as characters.
    In principle, the crucial question here, too, is whether they are used in
    text (actually used in human communication, as opposite to mere ideas and

    > (much
    > more than smileys that are the most reduced forms of emoticons
    > restricted to plain-text using some form of "ASCII Art").

    I think the real history is the reverse. Emoticons were invented as "ASCII
    Art", later turned (to some extent) into small images, included into fonts,
    and even encoded as characters. The "ASCII Art" emoticons differ from their
    image or character counterparts by implying a different angle, in a very
    literal sense: you are supposed to tilt your head 45 degrees to the left or
    imagine you did that, whereas the images or glyphs stand upright.

    "ASCII Art" has become a misnomer, since here (as so often nowadays) "ASCII"
    really means "plain text", without implying any particular encoding or
    character repertoire. It would better be called "Plain Text Art" (or with
    some more neutral word in place of "Art").

    Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")

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