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Abstract emoji-compatible characters

William Overington

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Abstract emoji-compatible characters (previously known as abstract emoji, but changed so as to minimize the possibility of controversy over the naming of them).

Previously I have produced various designs.

Some for personal pronouns, and some others.



I have now designed some abstract emoji-compatible characters to represent verbs. There are twenty-seven of them thus far.

Here are some designs.

The top row show three designs.

The design idea is that each of those three designs can be thought of as a design type.

For each of those design types, nine characters can be produced, by having either or both of the external to the square vertical blue lines present, and having either or both of the external to the square horizontal blue lines present.


The lower row shows three example characters.

I have not yet assigned meanings to any of them yet.

I am thinking that a simple sentence would consist of four characters, zero or more emoji characters and zero or more abstract emoji-compatible characters.

Firs character a noun or personal pronoun, picture or abstract.

Second a tense indicator, one of present, future, past, pluperfect, and others.

Third a verb character.

Fourth a noun.

For example,

I am wanting a pineapple.

would have three abstract emoji-compatible characters followed by an emoji character.

A man is wanting a pineapple.

would have an emoji character, followed by two abstract emoji-compatible characters, followed by an emoji character.





Until December 2022, using a Lenovo laptop running Windows 10 in England. From January 2023, using an HP laptop running Windows 11 in England.

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I started with an A4 landscape orientation document, at 300 dots per inch, working in pixels.

I used the Rectangle tool and the Transform panel to produce a rectangle with no stroke, 500 pixels wide and 100 pixels high, and coloured it orange r=255, g=192, b=0.

I then made a copy of the filled rectangle and moved it down the canvas.

I then made another copy of the filled rectangle and changed its height and width, so as to produce the left side of the large orange square.

I then copied that rectangle and moved it to the right, thus producing the orange square.

I then made a copy of the vertical rectangle at the left, coloured it blue r=0, g=0, b=255, shortened it to 300 pixels in length and then moved it upwards by 200 pixels.

That blue rectangle was then copied and the copy moved right by 20 pixels.

Then the horizontal blue bars were produced by copying, changing the size, and moving, as appropriate.

Thus completing the design at the left side of the top row.

I then grouped the design, copied the grouped design and moved the copy a thousand pixels to the right, ungrouped it, then added the inner blue bar.

Grouping that design when completed.

A similar process for the glyph at the right of the upper row.

I then produced the lower row by making copies from the upper row, moving each copy down a thousand pixels, ungrouping, then deleting some blue rectangles to show examples.

There needs to be at least one blue external vertical blue rectabngle and one blue external horizontal blue rectangle so that the glyph goes to the limits of its design area.

Please note that if needed, another twenty-seven designs could, in principle, be produced by a vertical mirroring of the present designs.

However, more designs cannot be produced by horizontally mirroring the present designs as the designs must e uniquely repreentable whether used with left to right text or right to left text.

Please note that the designs, whilst presented in a two-colour format, are designed such they would all be distinguishable in a monochrome display.   

The png file uploaded to this thread is at one fifth of full size both horixontally and vertically.

I used A4 so that I could also export a PDF document ar A4 size and then upload it to an online virual print shop so that I can get some prints on 350 gsm card, delivered to me by Royal Mail.



Until December 2022, using a Lenovo laptop running Windows 10 in England. From January 2023, using an HP laptop running Windows 11 in England.

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Here are the design rules that I have devised for my designing of the designs for abstract emoji-compatible characters.

Each design is in a seven by seven grid of forty-nine cells.

Each design may only include straight lines, corners, and T junctions. There are no crossovers.

Each design may be in one or more colours, yet the designs must be distinctly different from each other if printed in just monochrome, and may be used in monochrome if so desired.

Each design must still maintain its distinctiveness if mirrored horizontally as some languages are written right to left, the distinctiveness still existing even if left-to-right text and right-to-left text are mixed together.

There are no solid filled areas. This is so that a design can be drawn using pencil and paper, where the lines are thinner and the white spaces relatively larger.

Each design must be in one piece. It is helpful to think of this as if a design were made as a solid work of art to go on a wall, then it must be in one piece.

Each design must have at least one inked cell in each row and at least one inked cell in each column.

Each design has no place where a two by two block of cells consists of two inked cells and two uninked cells and the inked cells meet only at a point in the middle of the two by two block. 

The designs must not depend upon precise drawing of such things as the placement along a line of a T junction. This is so that if someone is drawing the design using a pencil and paper, if there is a T junction from a line, then as long as it is a T junction that is somewhere along the line, though not at a corner, then the meaning is still conveyed.

The designs for related characters should, where possible, have some parts in common, so that their relationship is more easily recognized by a human.


I coined a new word, ikmathic, based on the classical Greek words for adequate and for information that conveys here the idea that the pencil on paper drawing is ikmathic to the printed design if it contains adequate information for the particular purpose.



Until December 2022, using a Lenovo laptop running Windows 10 in England. From January 2023, using an HP laptop running Windows 11 in England.

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Thus far in this thread are designs that hopefully look good as art on a printed page. Maybe one day the designs will feature in an exhibition in an art gallery. Yet how can they be used in practice in electronic communication?

Conventionally, such new designs could be encoded by me, just on my say so, into one of the Private Use Areas of the Universal Character Set. That would allow them to be used in many ways much like the characters that are already officially encoded into the Universal Character Set. Certainly fine for producing PDF (Portable Document Format) documents, however not so good for communication with others using email and for putting on web pages. This is because, although I can encode my own new designs, just on my say so, into one of the Private Use Areas of the Universal Character Set, everyone else has that opportunity too, and the encodings might, and very often do, overlap. So, although a Private Use Area encoding can be used for communication if done with care to understand for which particular encoding each Private Use Area character is being used, and can be very useful, it has its limitations.

So I have devised my own encoding space for these abstract emoji-compatible characters, yet in a manner such that it can be used with existing technology.

In OpenType font technology there is a technique known as glyph substitution. There are various types of glyph substution. The one I use here is ligature substitution using the liga table of an OpenType font.

In a typical conventional use of the liga table, a line of code is included in the liga table that has the name of two or more characters on the left side of a statement and the glyph name of a glyph within the font on the right side of the statement. If the liga table is in use by the text displaying system that is using the font, then the statements in the liga table are obeyed.

The effect of obeying a statement in the liga table is to not display the glyphs for all of the characters that are listed at the left side and instead of them display the glyph that is at the right side.

So, for example,

sub c t -> c_t;

means that if the text in a document has a letter c followed by a letter t, then neither of them are displayed but the glyph named c_t is displayed.

So if one wants to display a word using a ct ligature character such as was found in some metal type founts, one could in desktop publishing use an OpenType font that has a glyph for a ct ligature in it and the statement in the liga table will facilitate that being possible.

However, there is no technology requirement that the substituted glyph is actually related to the characters for which it is substituted.

In typical use in text, the percent sign is usually used after digits and is not usually followed by digits.

So i decided that my encoding space for these abstract emoji-compatible characters could be used within ordinary text, text that might indeed include emoji, by encoding each of them as a percent character followed by two or more ordinary digits.

For examples, %11 %12 %35 %791

So I need an encoding for each of the twnty-seven designs for verbs.

Suppose that I have the code for each verb begin with %5 and then add two digits.

First consider the one or two vertical blue lines. They could be thought of as being a binary represenation of 1, 2 or 3, a line being a binary 1, the absence of a line being binary 0.

So %51, %52, and %53

Now consider the horizontal lines. I choose to have the binary number read downwards, and that gives 1, 2, or 3, so place that in the third digit column of the code number.

Considering the in the square horizontal line as adding 4 to the code in the third digit column of the code number and the in the square verical line as adding 4 in the second digit coumn of the code number, then there are twenty-seven designs each with a code number directly related to the design. Indeed, if I were to allow the two possible in the square lines to be simultaneously present, there would be another nine characters, though the two inner lines would overlap to form a larger shape, which may or may not be desirable, so not add those in at present.

I realize that that does leave the possibility of using codes with any of zero, eight, or nine in either or both of the second and third digit columns of the code number for other purposes.

So twenty-seven designs for characters, with, given the encoding rules, the code number deducible from the design, and the design deducible from the code number.

Also, by using my own encoding space, the characters can, once the meanings are defined, be used straightaway.



Until December 2022, using a Lenovo laptop running Windows 10 in England. From January 2023, using an HP laptop running Windows 11 in England.

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Esperanto has already failed as a world language. What's the point of a sign language now? shaking my head
Esperanto ist  doch schon als Weltsprache gescheitert. Was soll jetzt noch eine Zeichensprache. Kopfschütteln bei mir


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Esperanto has not failed as a world language, because it was not supposed to become a world language.

Esperanto was intended to be an auxiliary language, as a second language for everyone, to assist communication.

I regard Esperanto as a very beautiful language.

There is a free course on the web.


Registration is necessary after the first lesson, there is a profile, public by default, but one can switch it to private.

I am extending my knowledge of Esperanto.

I am also trying to learn Welsh.


What's the point of a sign language now? 

Well, there are emoji.

Some people have claimed emoji are a language.

I am trying to add features that improve the ability to communicate.

I suppose it depends upon how one looks at it. I am not a professional designer, I am not trying to make money from these designs.

Some people are very good at drawing using Affinity Designer. There are a number of threads in the Share your work forum with painting type art of various kinds.

I cannot do pictures like those.

However I am able to produce designs where I can transfer my thought designs to a canvas using mathematical methods, working out the sizes of shapes and where to place shapes, using the Transform panel to accurately set up position and size by entering numbers from the keyboard.

I find it fascinating to look at how Esperanto expresses sentences, at how Welsh expresses sentences, at how French expresses sentences, and how a sentence can be expressed using emoji together with symbols such as those that I am designing. 

Hopefully what I am publishing will be of interest to some people. Perhaps it is like one reads articles about recreational mathematics.

By doing such things, I think about how to do these things.






Until December 2022, using a Lenovo laptop running Windows 10 in England. From January 2023, using an HP laptop running Windows 11 in England.

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