Welsh Flag Emojii

Hi Guys,

A friend of mind just sent me this, thought it would be of interest here :wink:

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That’s… not how it works.

I sympathise with where this is coming from, and I’ve also wished for a Welsh flag emoji in the past, but the Unicode Consortium is not the right organisation to address that petition to – though I suppose one can’t expect the man on the street to know the technical details.

To the best of my knowledge, the Unicode consortium specifically decided not to go down that tricky road and decide which flags to encode (what’s a country and what isn’t?).

What they did instead is to provide for 26 special codes corresponding to letters of the alphabet but which are intended for this kind of flag-emoji use.

Then those font providers who wish to have flag emojis can interpret sequences of those special codes that correspond to two-letter ISO 3166 country codes (which many may know from Internet domains, e.g. “DE” for Germany or “SI” for Slovenia) as flag symbols.

Which two-“letter” sequences are interpreted as flags will then depend on the font provider – so, for example, Apple may ship their devices with a font that recognises a slightly different set of two-letter codes than Samsung on their devices. For example, one vendor may recognise the sequence corresponding to “AQ” and display the flag of Antarctica while another may say that “that’s not a country” and not interpret that sequence as a flag. Or some might have a flag for Kosovo or Taiwan while others might say “those aren’t countries; they’re part of Serbia and China, respectively”.

As you can see, this is a tricky political area, and I don’t fault the Unicode Consortium for wanting to stay out of the debate.

So this appeal should be directed either to the individual font creators (e.g. Apple) to recognise a custom sequence (e.g. one from ‘QM’ to ‘QZ’ or ‘XA’ to ‘XZ’ as those ranges are deliberately left free in the ISO-3166 standard and can be assigned any desired meaning by anyone – as long as sender and recipient agree) as “Wales”, or it should be directed to the ISO 3166 standards body to provide Wales with an ISO 3166 two-letter code, after which the petitioners could then petition font vendors to recognise that abbreviation as a code for the Welsh flag. (Note that ‘CY, CM, CR, CU’ are all already taken, for Cyprus, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Cuba. ‘WL’ and ‘WS’ are also out but ‘WA’ is a theoretically possibility.)

As an additional note, England and Scotland similarly do not have flag emojis – because they also do not have an ISO 3166 country code. Nor, of course, do other non-internationally-recognised-state entities such as Basque Country, Kurdistan, California, Brittany, Cornwall, the American Southern States, Sápmi (“Lappland”), or the community of Esperanto speakers.

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Really? That sounds like the bad old days of codepages. I’m staggered they’d go that direction.

is the article about this, including a bit of background and links to source documents.

The alternative – encoding only those flags or symbols as Unicode characters that were already in use in the telephone character sets that were the basis for encoded emoji – would have resulted in exactly ten symbols: for China, Germany, Spain, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States.

I don’t think that would have been better.

I can imagine that they would have preferred not to encode them at all (together with many if not most or all of the emoji), as they rather stretch Unicode’s remit of faciliting text-based communication.

I’m somewhat boggled. Thank you for the education.

Although I think that’s a fairly weak argument, given things like:

Precisely. Hence my statement that most if not all emoji have only a weak argument for inclusion in Unicode – were it not for the criterion “encoded in existing character sets”, I can’t see how they would have a raison d’être in Unicode.

Thank you for an interesting insight into this topic, Philip. It sounds like OSI may need to get ready for some adjustments soon…

Interesting to see that while England and Scotland have no codes assigned, Isle of Man (IM), Guernsey (GG) and Jersey (JE) are there, as is Hong Kong (HK).

I wonder if steps were taken to have Cymru/Wales assigned an ISO-3166 code when the request for its own domain suffixes was made, do you know?

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And Gibraltar, and the British Virgin Islands, and various other parts that are not completely part of the United Kingdom in all international respects (e.g. customs/tolls, nationality/EU citizenship rules).

I don’t know but I highly doubt it. It’s possible that the odd layperson campaigned for it but I think that the people who are enough “in the know” technically to apply for a top-level domain (.cymru/.wales) also know (at least broadly) what the criteria for an ISO 3166 code are - some kind of internationally-recognised entity, not a subnational entity such as a US state or a UK constituent country.

That said, there are a handful of non-state entities with a code in that ISO 3166 space, especially “EU” for the European Union. And a handful of codes got registered only for certain purposes such as special customs rules (I think AX for the Åland Islands might fall under this – they belong to Finland but have internal autonomy and also other customs rules, I think).

So it’s not completely impossible for the ISO 3166 standards body to approve some new non-state code, but due to the can of worms such exceptions open I highly doubt this will happen anytime soon.

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Thanks Philip, there seems to be a high degree of arbitrariness in this area - and the situation will not get any better following Brexit, I think

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Looks like they might be listening after all !

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And I like the way this was proposed – not dreaming up new “country codes” or special-casing Wales etc. specifically, but instead a proposal to extend “country flags” to “region flags” which would be applicable for things such as federal subjects of Russia, US states, German states, Canadian provinces, etc.

We shall see whether this will get implemented and how soon.