About cultural/languages communities flags

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at wanadoo.fr
Fri Feb 13 05:04:54 CST 2015

2015-02-13 7:04 GMT+01:00 Christopher Vance <cjsvance at gmail.com>:

> With ISO3166, there's almost always an objective answer to "what is the
> flag?". UA may be breaking up, but many of those opposed to the Kyiv
> government would prefer not to be in UA anyway. Sometimes there's a dispute
> as to which group is running a country, like in SY at the moment, but I'm
> guessing few would yet claim it's time to change the flag there. EH may be
> a problem.
> For languages, there's often no objective answer, unless you ask "which
> country has the most speakers?", and then you'd have to ask about first
> language vs second/third/etc. What flag for English? India, UK, US, or
> something else? What about sub-national language? I have been told there
> are more Tokelauans (and therefore to a first approximation speakers of
> Tokelauan) in Wellington NZ, than there are in Tokelau itself. Which flag
> for them?

This is completely a non-issue with the Unicode standard itself. There's an
ample enough space to use various designs that match character properties
as well as user expectations *without* breaking the character identity
itself. So even if the US flag is often used for English, in Britanic sites
they will use the British flag. In the Republic of Ireland they'll won't
use the Irish flag for the English language (prefered for the Irish
language itself) and will unlikely use the British flag. In South Africa or
India to, they won't use their national flag for English (multiple official
languages there, and English is not even the preferred language).

In those last cases they will prefer a neutral flag with just the letters
"en" to using the alternative with the US flag, or they will use a
"pachwork" flag mixing the US flag and the British flag....

It's up to appplications to use the set of glyphs that are appropriate for
their own users, or to offer them the choice of fonts or icon sets, either
in the UI of their input method, or keyboards  (even physical keyboards if
they can display icons with small displays on top of keycaps, or on a row
of virtual keys added on a touch display panel on top of the keyboard (with
the appropriate drivers for installing the support for the secondary
display adapter and touch device), or to vendors to sell stickers or custom

Applications can also offer the same choice by preference in their text
renderer (or web browser). Word processors can also offer it with their
font selector, for those that want to produce preset documents with a
design determined by the author or the web designers or some predetermined
graphic charter for collective works.

This choice can include prefilled sets matching several common cultures, or
various styles (such as falt rectangular flags, or free flying flags, or
basic text in a blank flag frame). If users don't want to see the official
national flags but prefer to see other icon matchin his culture (including
objects such as an Eiffel Tower for France or the logos of their regional
council, or the logo of region capitals, or a small locator map of the
region), they can do so.

All this remains valid for "flags"  used to repesent ISO regions, but as
well will be vali for
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