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Petitions call for French emojis including Camembert

Two petitions are calling for the creation of French-related emojis - the small icons and characters used on mobile and social media keyboards - including the Camembert cheese and the Breton flag.

Now, cheese manufacturer Fromagerie Gillot and the Breton culture association .bzh (of the Breton internet domain name, .bzh) have set up two petitions to demand that these two symbols of France be represented in the emoji keyboard selection.

Should they be successful, the emojis will need to be selected and approved according to several criteria.

Emojis began in Japan in 1995, created by engineer Shigetaka Kurita, and started as a way to show more emotions in short messages or updates, such as “smileys” and facial expressions.

Since then, emojis have spread worldwide and have incorporated many international influences and subjects, including food, nature, sports, numeric icons, clothes, world flags, hobbies and many others.

Despite their spread worldwide, emojis are controlled by the Unicode Consortium organisation - made up of many technological companies including Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM - and must be chosen, standardised, and released in stages.

Through gathering signatures and raising awareness, the petitions are ultimately seeking approval by this group.

David Lesvenan, president of .bzh, explained: “The objective of our petition is to attract the attention of Internet giants, so that they support the candidature of the Breton flag emoji to the Unicode Consortium.”

The Unicode Consortium chooses its next “release” of emojis based on a number of factors, especially the “level of expected use”.

The more an emoji is expected to be used, the more likely it is to be included in the next emoji keyboard release, the group explains.

Emojis must also be easily-recognisable, and may also have dual meanings.

For example, the symbol of a shark can mean the animal itself, and the concept of a predator in general; the emoji symbol for a cat also displays a positive sentiment, while the spider also shows a negative sentiment.

“If the emoji portrays a concept that is not simply a variant of already-existing emojis”, it also has a higher chance of being selected, the Consortium explains.

While petitions are not normally accepted by the Consortium, because “they are too-easily biased”, the website specifies that “anyone can present a plea” for a specific emoji.

The Breton flag camp is hopeful that it will be successful due to the flag’s distinctive and recognisable design.

It also points out that the emoji keyboard has recently incorporated the Welsh and Scottish flags into its selection, and already includes the flags of 12 French territories, including Martinique, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

The flag was also chosen last year as the “second-most wanted” emoji by internet users on World Emoji Day 2017.

As for Camembert, the petition for its inclusion is trailing behind that of the Breton flag, and has so far only gathered 1,000 signatures. Similarly, ambiguities exist over the potential design of the emoji, to avoid its confusion with other cheese.

Yet, the fame of the cheese itself, which is well-known as an international symbol of French gastronomy, could work in its favour.

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