Emoji Haggadah

Mark E. Shoulson via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Tue Apr 16 17:26:38 CDT 2019

On 4/16/19 4:00 AM, James Kass via Unicode wrote:
> On 2019-04-16 7:09 AM, Martin J. Dürst via Unicode wrote:
>> All the examples you cite, where images stand for sounds, are typically
>> used in some of the oldest "ideographic" scripts. Egyptian definitely
>> has such concepts, and Han (CJK) does so, too, with most ideographs
>> consisting of a semantic and a phonetic component.
> Using emoji as rebus puzzles seems harmless enough but it defeats the 
> goals of those emoji proponents who want to see emoji evolve into a 
> universal form of communication because phonetic recognition of 
> symbols would be language specific.  Users of ancient ideographic 
> systems typically shared a common language where rebus or phonetic 
> usage made sense to the users.  (Of course, diverse CJK user 
> communities were able to adapt over time.)
> All of the reviews of this publication on the page originally linked 
> seemed positive, so it appears that people are having fun with emoji.  
> But I suspect that this work would be jibber-jabber to any non-English 
> speaker unfamiliar with the original Haggadah. No matter how otherwise 
> fluent they might be in emoji communication.

You are certainly correct that you need to be an English-speaker to read 
it.  Knowing the original (and Hebrew) helps, and maybe sometimes is 
necessary too (How can Rabbi Akiva be translated as ����??  Well, 
"rabbit" for "Rabbi" [English-speaking knowledge], and "Akiva" comes 
from the root AYIN-QOF-BET, meaning "heel" [Hebrew knowledge]).  There 
is a section in the back that purports to explain the workings of some 
of this, but I actually haven't read it, and have been avoiding it.  
Just working it out on my own.  The back of the book also has the actual 
text in both Hebrew and English, and sometimes I'll look there to see 
what the English was that they were translating to get whatever it was 
they got to.

I think the notion that emoji could evolve into a "universal form of 
communication" is unrealistic.  Emoji are in many ways *definitionally* 
culture-specific, far from culturally neutral (at best they can try to 
be kinda inclusive, but that only goes so far.)  Crafting specific 
sentences to meet the demands of a language-speaking population needs 
more than the cute-looking symbols.  It also needs boring ones to 
express their relationships, or at least some cool way to join them 
together (see the famous "Yukaghir Love Letter"; one description here: 
At any rate, emoji are not designed or selected with completeness for 
communication in mind.  For them to fill that role, there would have to 
be some work done on figuring out what's missing, etc.  (see also a 
whole slew of conlang projects from the zany to the scholarly (but 
mostly zany) attempting to distill all meaning down to a ridiculously 
small set of symbols for expressing anything.  What's coming to mind to 
me right now is aUI, which if I recall correctly had all of 
communication boiled down to 36 symbols—of which 10 were numerals).

It's still kinda fun to work out what the book is trying to say, though...


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