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HomeLanguage NewsnewsAdopt an Emoji, Save a Language

Adopt an Emoji, Save a Language

  The Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the computing industry standard for digital writing systems, is allowing people to adopt an emoji or any Unicode character in order to give speakers of more languages the ability to communicate online. English was the first language used online and by the mid 1990’s made up 80% of web-based content. Now 80% of the internet is dominated by ten languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, German, French, and Malaysian. Out of the world’s approximately 6,500 languages, only about 130 are online, which has led to information inequality around the globe. “Beyond our work standardizing emoji, Unicode is tackling some big challenges that might surprise many people,” Mark Davis, co-founder and president of the Unicode Consortium told Mirror. “The vast majority of the world’s living languages, close to 98%, are ‘digitally disadvantaged’ – meaning they are not supported on the most popular devices, operating systems, browsers and mobile applications.”

Emoji and character adoptions are priced at either $100, $1,000, or $5,000 with a total of 120,000 options to choose from. “The funding we’re looking for goes into two buckets,” Davis explained to Wired Magazine. Bucket one, he says, is encoding more historical scripts—like Egyptian hieroglyphs—so they can be digitally preserved. “The second bucket is providing better language support,” Davis said. “There is certain core information that is needed for a computer to support a language, and that’s the data in the Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR) project.” In order to pursue the project Unicode will need funds for travel, translators, software engineers, and researchers. “We have very good support for the top 70 or so, and then it starts to fall off,” Davis continued. “There are many, many thousands of languages that need to be added. We have a long way to go.”

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