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These new emoji range from obviously useful ones like Cloud With Rain and Dark Sunglasses to questionably useful ones like Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extendedto frankly bizarre ones like Man in Business Suit Levitating.
And this fall, in response to ongoing concerns about the lack of ethnic diversity among existing emoji—most of which, if they involve human faces, are represented as vaguely Caucasian—Unicode announced that users should soon have the option to change the skin tone of certain emoji to different hues on the Fitz Patrick scale, a “recognized standard for dermatology.” This was very big news to emoji enthusiasts. We are all increasingly talking to each other through screens.
Modern examples of ideograms include the person-in-a-wheelchair symbol that universally communicates accessibility and the red-hand symbol at a pedestrian crossing that signals not “red hand” but “stop.” Emoji can somewhat magically function as pictograms and ideograms at the same time.
Taken together, emoji look like the electronic equivalent of those puffy stickers tweens used to ornament their Trapper Keepers.
And yet, if you have a smartphone, emoji are now available to you as an optional written language, just like any global language, such as Arabic and Catalan and Cherokee and Tamil and Tibetan and English.
(Basically, Unicode is the reason that the text message you send from your i Phone is legible to someone with an Android phone and vice versa.) This summer, the Unicode Consortium—a U.
S.-based nonprofit organization with a Pynchonian name that rules over all things Unicode—announced that more than 250 new emoji symbols would be added to the existing set.