Expert Linguists Wage War on Anthropomorphic Poo

Inside the great emoji debate of our time
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2017 11:37 AM CDT
Expert Linguists Wage War on Anthropomorphic Poo
Sofia Vergara loves the poo emoji. Linguists not so much.   (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

Andrew West and Michael Everson are two of the top language encoders in the world, experienced linguists—and definitive proof that it's impossible to not sound silly while discussing poo. "Will we have a CRYING PILE OF POO next? PILE OF POO WITH TONGUE STICKING OUT? PILE OF POO WITH QUESTION MARKS FOR EYES? PILE OF POO WITH KARAOKE MIC?" Everson wrote in a memo. "CRYING PILE OF POO, PILE OF POO WITH LOOK OF TRIUMPH, PILE OF POO SCREAMING IN FEAR, etc.," West added. BuzzFeed reports there's an emoji war underway at Unicode Consortium—the organization created to maintain standards for encoding alphabets for use online but that has found itself in charge of emojis—and the two typographers are in the s**t, as it were.

Everson and West, who would likely rather focus on encoding ancient alphabets, accuse Unicode's Emoji Subcommittee of being a "secretive cabal" that lacks transparency and accountability. More than that, they say the subcommittee is, as BuzzFeed puts it, "too commercial and frivolous." And "Frowning Pile of Poo," under consideration for the 2018 emoji class, is their case in point. In a memo last month, Everson called it "damaging ... to the Unicode standard," adding the organization should be embarrassed and "organic waste isn't cute." (He's not a fan of the current smiling poop emoji either: "A coil of dog dirt with stink lines and flies is surely the only proper semantic.") And while the debate may seem silly, the stakes for linguists are high, as many see emojis as the "first digital universal language." Read the full piece here. (More emoji stories.)

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