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How Emojis Find Their Way to Phones

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The Unicode Consortium will meet in May to decide whether to add 67 new emojis.

Credit: Unicode

The Unicode Consortium, which was founded in the late 1980s to create a standardized code for text characters, is attracting interest as the arbiter of new emojis. Emojis, or hieroglyphic pictures that represent thoughts, moods, and other symbols to convey messages mainly on mobile devices, have drawn controversy for various reasons, including some people's perception of them as a language.

"It's not a language, but conceivably, it could develop into one, like Chinese did," says Unicode president Mark Davis. "Pictures can acquire a particular meaning in a particular culture."

Linguist Tyler Schnoebelen acknowledges symbols can serve as a kind of functional equivalent of body language.

The consortium will meet in May to decide whether to officially expand the emoji vocabulary with 67 new symbols, and the group says compatibility and frequency of use are among the factors it weighs when voting on which emojis to induct, while another is "completeness."

Potential additions Unicode is considering include sports icons chosen to accommodate people who will text during the next Olympics.

Davis notes once the expansion is approved, it is up to mobile device manufacturers to add the new emojis to their phones.

From The New York Times
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