Emoji characters for food allergens

William_J_G Overington wjgo_10009 at btinternet.com
Wed Jul 29 08:42:59 CDT 2015

> As according to http://unicode.org/faq/emoji_dingbats.html , emoji characters do not have single semantics. Which I think it is not what the original proposer want? Or were I misunderstanding that
Garth Wallace has already indicated in his reply to your post that it was me, not the original proposer, who wanted single semantics.
Thank you for the link. I have followed it and read in the document what it says about single semantics.
Well, it seems to me that something has got to give in order for "Emoji characters for food allergies" to work effectively.
The easiest thing appears to be to not call the items emoji.
I opine that a new word is needed to mean the following.
A character that looks like it is an emoji character yet has precise semantics.
There is an issue here that is, in my opinion, quite fundamental to the future of encoding items that are currently all regarded as emoji: an issue that goes far beyond the matter of encoding emoji characters for food allergens.
Communication through the language barrier is of huge importance and may become more so in the future.
Emoji seemed like a wonderful way to achieve communication through the language barrier.
Yet if semantics are not defined, then there is a problem.
Please consider the matter of text to speech in the draft Unicode Technical Report 51.
I remember years ago I was asked in this mailing list what chat means.
I think that discussing the meaning of chat is some classic Unicode cultural matter.
In English it is an informal talk between two or more people, in French it is a cat.
So the sequence of Unicode characters only has meaning in the context that they are being used.
Now the big opportunity with emoji could be to assist communication through the language barrier.
>From reading about semantics in the linked document it appears that that opportunity might be disappearing or may have gone already.
This, in my opinion, is unfortunate.
The food allergen characters could, by being precisely defined with one and only one meaning, be either an exception to the general situation or could be the start of a trend.
A name other than emoji is needed for such characters that have one and only one meaning, that meaning precisely defined.
Those characters could still be colourful and could look emoji-ish.
Maybe they could be double width so as to show their distinctiveness?
Would double width characters be a problem as regards applying them in systems such as mobile telephones at present?
Now, such precisely defined emoji could be entirely representationally pictures, yet there could also be abstract pictures and also pictures that are partly representational and partly abstract.
For example, one such character could be used to be placed before a list of emoji characters for food allergens to indicate that that a list of dietary need follows.
For example,
My dietary need is no gluten no dairy no egg
There could be a way to indicate the following.
My diet can include soya
There is a situation that affects further discussion of some aspects of this matter, though not all aspects of this matter, as a totally symbolic representation could still be discussed.
However, there is also the following.
Please note the use of the word temporary in the definition.
So maybe all is not lost and discussion of all aspects will become possible at some future time.
William Overington
29 July 2015
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