Hanmoji, part 2

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"Hanmoji" is a portmanteau consisting of the first syllable of hanzi ("Chinese character") and the second part of emoji.

From Bob Bauer:

Have you heard of or seen the book entitled The Hanmoji Handbook: Your Guide to the Chinese Language through Emoji, MITeen Press, published August 30, 2022?

The day before yesterday (Thursday, 2 March 2023) I read a review of this book by Richard James Havis on page B9 in the South China Morning Post. Here is a quotation from the review: “Its authors An Xiao Mina, Jennifer 8 Lee and Jason Li – based in North America – show readers how Chinese characters form their meanings by relating them to the emjois we use every day.” (The number “8” does occur in Jennifer 8 Lee’s name just as written).

I have heard of emoji but know little about them and haven’t paid much attention to them. Does each emoji have a specific pronunciation associated with it like a Chinese character typically does? I’m thinking emojis differ from Chinese characters in this particular area (and probably other areas as well). For example, when I see “”, I don’t pronounce it, but I just think ‘smiley face’. However, when I see the Chinese character 木, I associate two pronunciations with it: Cantonese “muk6” and Putonghua “mù” and its English meaning “tree”.

Bob's questions and suspicions are right on target.  Anyone who confuses emoji with hanzi doesn't understand how either of them works.  Alas, there are quite a few people, including some famous professors of Chinese language and literature, who can't tell the difference between the two.


Selected readings


  1. 8kek said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 1:45 am

    For example, when I see “”,

    Where Bob Bauer presumably sees "", I see a placeholder, because U+F04A is a Private Use codepoint.

  2. 8kek said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 1:46 am

    Oh no, it happened again. That "" was of course supposed to be a smiley.

  3. Frédéric Grosshans said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 3:33 am

    The character “”, which Bob Bauer sees as a “smiley face” is encoded on the post as U+F04A, a codepoint from Unicode’s private use area. What the viewer will see is totally dependent on the font installed in their computer, and may not look like a smiley face at all

  4. Taylor, Philip said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 5:09 am

    For example, I see it as a portrait-orientation rectangle which may contain, arranged in a square, the hexadecimal characters F04A (the first two above the second two). The may is there because the glyph appears pre-rasterised and therefore does not scale.

  5. Andy Stow said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 1:13 pm

    Hopefully this one works. If you press the "Windows key" plus ";" or "." on a Windows computer, you can type emojis without having to copy and paste from the web, or use character map.

  6. Andy Stow said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 1:13 pm

    Nope, completely stripped out by the commenting system. :-(

  7. David Marjanović said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 3:02 pm

    Hopefully this one works.

    Not on this Windows 7 machine, where nothing happens.

  8. Frank Chance said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 4:47 pm

    It occurs to me that Jennifer 8 Lee may be referencing the film Jennifer 8. See https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104549/

  9. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 4:49 pm

    @Andy Stow: I wasn't aware of this (I only use emojis in specific apps), so thank you! However, there's an interesting quirk: My machines are all set to have English as the interface language but the systems are originally Polish. When the pop-up prompts me to "keep typing" (in English no less!), it actually expects the Polish emoji names for some reason. I found this out by accident after being unable to find some obvious ones…

    And this leads me to something on-topic: These days, (at least some) emojis have standard names, and people sometimes know them. So while the OP doesn't "pronounce" the smiley face, he absolutely could, in multiple languages. And the app-specific "input methods" for emoji (e.g. on WhatsApp) will expect text input when searching for specific ones. So they do work a bit like kanji; with some caveats and quirks, yes, but U+1F327 has the official Unicode name of "cloud with rain" in one language, but "chmura i deszcz" in another…

  10. Taylor, Philip said,

    March 8, 2023 @ 5:34 pm

    What intrigues me about Jennifer Lee's middle name, Frank, is why she spells it with a period. '8' isn't an abbreviation for anything, so it should not take a period.

  11. Carl said,

    March 9, 2023 @ 8:33 pm

    She has a Wikipedia page. It says just chose to not be NMI as a teen. It doesn’t give a reason for the dot.

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