Re: Emoticons

From: Shlomi Tal (
Date: Wed May 22 2002 - 14:08:35 EDT

Doug Ewell wrote:

>The smiling face and frowning face have fairly obvious value as
>emoticons. I use U+263A (in its UCN form, "\u263a) sometimes when
>posting to this list. A winking face and a "surprised" or "shocked"
>face could arguably be useful as well. But once you get past those
>four, there's not much left except glyph variants

In fact, of the three emoticons now extant, I use only the white smiling
face. I don't see any special point in using the black smiling face (it's
there because of CP437, I believe), and as for the white frowning face, it
isn't in Times New Roman and other common WGL4 fontsets. Lucida Sans Unicode
and Arial Unicode MS are not universal enough to trust. The only Unicode
symbols I trust to use are those of the Times/WGL4 set, such as the male
sign, female sign, card signs and so forth. Astrological symbols, for
example, are out - I can print them on my laser printer from the Lucida Sans
Unicode font, but I can't expect them to appear properly in everyone's

>Some people believe that encoding certain entities (Klingon comes to
>mind) would bring great embarrassment to Unicode and cause people not >to
>respect it or take it seriously. That's how I feel about encoding
> >additional smileys.

True, and yet there are so many symbols included for compatibility purposes,
which are otherwise not useful. The box shades (dark, middle, light etc)
make sense when you think of compatibility with CP437 and other terminal
implementations, but I can't think of another situation where they might be
useful. (The box-drawing lines, on the other hand, are still useful even
outside the terminal graphics context).

I think of the benefits of Unicode in terms of "what more characters are
available". I remember how hard it was, back in 1993 or so, to transliterate
phonetic writing with all the macrons and combining dots, and now it's much
easier. And :-) is just like a" in that respect: just as the latter used to
be a hack when you weren't sure you could get that diaeresis through, the
former is the hack for those systems where you couldn't rely on universal
CP437 display. Hacks such as those are where humans begin serving the
machines instead of the other way round. I find it detestable.

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