The rapid ... erosion of definition ability

Mark Davis ☕️ mark at
Mon Nov 17 06:14:34 CST 2014

On Mon Nov 17 2014 at 12:15:08 PM Andreas Stötzner <as at>

> Am 17.11.2014 um 11:46 schrieb Leonardo Boiko:
> "Sign" is too general
> in its generality it is just perfect. The sets of signs in question are
> most general, covering much more matters, objects and topics than the
> actual emoticons.

>> They’re just signs and that’s it.

The term 'emoji' is certainly a useful term for people to use, denoting a
certain kind of symbol. Saying that one should never use it is like saying
that one should never say "dog" or "cat", only the generic "animal"...

> The UCS defines the 1F600 set properly as Emoticons. At least, we should
> (in English) speak of Emoticons and not Emoji.

Not really (and we don't really "define" them as emoticons; that's just the
block name—and arguably should should have been different).

> Other “symbols” (another misnomer i.m.h.o., but that’s another story)

Not, at least, in English.

> of this kind are termed “Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs”. This is
> not bad but unprecise as well since many of these signs are not pictographs
> but ideographs.

We warn people in multiple places that the names of blocks are *not*
reliable guides to the kinds of characters in the block.

> Yeah what the heck ;)
> We have a long tradition of naming these things rather lousy (“Dingbats”).
> I am a traditionalist as a matter of fact but if precise terming is tricky
> I find it better to generalize than to blur.

I generally agree about the utility of having generic terms in a language.
Listening to Swiss newscasts, I find it bizarre to hear pretty clumsy
phrasing that is the equivalent of the following (because there is a
different form for male and female of many nouns).

— The politicians(m) and politicians(f) met with the directors(m) and
directors(f), writers(m) and writers(f), and actors(m) and actresses.

We suffer from it much less in English, mostly with "he" and "she",
although clearly the use of "they" as a gender-neutral signular is on the
upswing (although it's been around for centuries).

However, what is most useful is when there are generic terms, *plus*
specific ones.

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