1813: Vomiting Emoji
Title text: My favorite might be U+1F609 U+1F93F WINKING FACE VOMITING.
This comic relates to the recent Emoji v5.0 proposal for Unicode 10.0 which includes a vomiting emoji. Cueball initially states that the newly proposed emoji look good, until Megan points out the existence of the vomiting emoji. While Cueball finds this distasteful, Megan rather seems to like it, going as far as suggesting rather than a single emoji, it should be possible to have a whole array of vomiting emojis by combining the vomiting action with other existing emojis.
- Note: Some of the emojis below may not display correctly if your browser or operating system doesn't implement the latest Unicode standard.
Unicode is the computing industry standard for representing text. More recent additions have included emoji characters, such as grinning face (😁) or hands clapping (👏). Each Unicode character is assigned a numerical code, usually written in hexadecimal notation. For example, the grinning face emoji is assigned the code U+1F601, and the clap symbol is assigned U+1F44F. Unicode also supports "combining modifiers" which allow, among other uses, placing accents on letters, adding decorations to other emojis, or changing the colors of flags or skin tones. For example, letters such as A, O, or n together with a combining tilde (U+0303) modifier result in those letters having a tilde glyph on top (Ã, Õ, ñ), and various emojis for people, such as 👨 or 👩, together with the medium-dark skin tone modifier (U+1F3FE), results in those same people with altered skin color (👨🏾, 👩🏾).
Along the same lines, Megan's proposal is to assign the code U+1F93F to be a combining modifier indicating vomiting. Under this proposal, it would theoretically be possible to combine a vomiting modifier with any emoji to produce a vomiting version of that emoji. Six examples are given in the last panel, with each being progressively more nonsensical. The title text continues this and gives another example of a ridiculous combination.
The examples given in the comic are:
- Vomiting Cowboy (🤠): This seems reasonable and not much worse off than the regular one.
- Vomiting Statue of Liberty (🗽): Given the turbulent political climate in present-day America, this emoji might see a lot of use by opinionated folks.
- Vomiting Dove (🕊): As the dove is usually seen as a symbol of peace, a vomiting one could be construed as an omen for war or used to depict strong objection to ongoing conflicts. It may also reference a tendency for birds to drop unpleasant things on people below. It is worth noting that pigeons are a subspecies of doves so a dove emoji might as well represent a flying pigeon.
- Vomiting Moon (🌛): In cartoons or fairy tales, the Moon is often anthropomorphized, however depicting it as vomiting would be extraordinary since that would not be in line with normal child-friendly material.
- Vomiting rocket ship (🚀): This might be a reference to the "Vomit Comet" aircraft that astronauts train on. Also, space travel and travel in general (e.g. in cars, roller coasters, airplanes) can all be associated with vomiting. However, since the cabins of rocket ships should be airtight when in flight, vomit coming out of a flying rocket would be quite strange. While it would be hazardous to have vomit floating around in a weightless environment, the situation would more usually be prevented by carefully containing the vomit, and/or by using anti-nausea medication.
- Vomiting Hand (✋): This one is just bizarre. Maybe it could be used in the context of some horror flick?
- Winking Face Vomiting (😉, title text): This suggests that the context in which a wink is used is combined with vomiting to humorous effect.
Assigning Unicode characters to emojis has been controversial historically due to the fact that Unicode was created as a standard for text. Emojis, which are essentially drawings of people or objects, aren't typically perceived as parts of text, and so leads some to object to co-opting the standard for non-text things. Using combining modifiers to further expand emojis is also seen as an abuse of the original purpose of modifier characters. As an alternative, emoji zero-width joiner sequences are in use, where an emoji is encoded as a series of simpler emoji and zero-width joiners. In practice, this would probably be how the above characters would be implemented, instead of with a combining modifier. Jokes that make fun of Unicode, involving emojis that shouldn't exist or inappropriate combinations thereof, are fairly common on the Internet.
In the title text of 1726: Unicode, Randall mentioned the proposed "brontosaurus" emoji in Unicode. And shortly before that Megan talked in similarly drawn emojis in 1709: Inflection. In general emoji has become a recurrent topic on xkcd.
- [Cueball, looking at his smartphone, approaches Megan who is sitting in an office chair at a desk working on her laptop. Next to Megan's reply is a large yellow faced emjoi with closed eyes and a large open mouth from where a thick green stream of vomit is gushing out. ]
- Cueball: The proposed emoji for Unicode 10.0 look good.
- Megan: Hmm.
- Megan: 🤮 "U+1F92E Face with open mouth vomiting"
- [Cueball is holding his phone down looking at Megan's screen.]
- Cueball: Eww.
- Megan: Really, "vomiting" should be a combining modifier, so you can use it to make a vomiting version of any emoji.
- Cueball: Umm.
- Megan: I'm gonna write up a proposal.
- [Megan's proposal with six examples of vomiting emoji. All six are colorful also apart from the green stream of vomit gushing out of mouth or holes when there is no mouth. Above the list is Megan's suggested title for the modifier, and the title for each emoji is next to them in the list. The cowboy is like the original version but with a hat. The Statue of Liberty is blue and bends forward to vomit. The gray dove has lost its green olive branch, now above its head. The yellow moon is in first quarter and has a face. The red and blue rocket has fire out the rear and the vomit out an open hatch. The yellow hand has a big hole in its center.]
- U+1F93F Vomiting modifier
- U+1F920 U+1F93F Vomiting cowboy
- U+1F5FD U+1F93F Vomiting Statue of Liberty
- U+1F54A U+1F93F Vomiting dove
- U+1F31B U+1F93F Vomiting moon
- U+1F680 U+1F93F Vomiting rocket ship
- U+270B U+1F93F Vomiting hand
Two years after this comic was published, in 2019, Unicode added U+1F93F in Unicode 12.0 and Emoji 12.0, but instead used the code for a diving mask emoji. Six years after this comic was published, in 2023, Google added an "Emoji kitchen" easter egg to their homepage that allows users to "combine" two emojis from a set into one. This includes the vomit, cowboy and moon emojis, making two of the five combinations in the comic possible, as well as the winking face mentioned in the title text.
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