J2 describes Unicode

Okay, so probably you’ve heard of this thing called Unicode? It’s this character set that tries to accurately represent every character in EVERY LANGUAGE EVER. They’re still working on that, but they’ve been successful enough to become an industry standard, which is pretty great. Anyway, there are a handful of strange and awesome characters included in it, and here are some of them! (If they don’t show up for you, or they show up as question marks, you’re not missing much, but here’s a way to fix that.)


This awesome little guy is called the Interrobang. It was created by an advertiser named Martin K. Spekter, who thought it would be better to “convey surprised rhetorical questions using a single mark”. I guess no one really cared about that, but then the INTERNET found it a few years later and claimed it awesome, but that was probably because popular culture came and made it cool beforehand. That guy always ruins everything.

Anyway, if you haven’t already guessed, it turns “What did you do to my pear tree?!” to “What did you do to my pear tree‽”. It’s not formally accepted in the least, but it’s still a cool little part of the English language that people are sort of trying to hold on to.


All right, before we get into this one, we have to understand 〒. 〒 is the postal mark of Japan, which precedes zip codes. Someone then came up with the idea to turn it into a little face, 〠. I’m not sure why this got included in Unicode, though – the only reason I can come up with is that the people who run it are awesome.

The face (or rather the character represented by the face) is “Number-kun”, according to Wikipedia. I’m guessing it’s some sort of Japanese Mr. Zip, though I can’t find much else on Number-kun. However, sources say they created a new character named Poston ten years ago. Can’t find anything on him either. Is this truly the folly of Wikipedia, or is it merely my inability to translate into Japanese to Google things?


Yeah, it’s technically a swastika, although facing the opposite way of the Nazi-style one. Apparently people were freaking out about this a while back, and then they sort of shut up about it when people pointed it out it was used as a character (and as a sign of peace, too!). If you want to know more about this, please point your interbrowser towards this lovely article that does a better job of explaining this than I could.


Come on. This is just awesome.

So yeah, Unicode is a good thing that probably has many secrets that have yet to be uncovered. There are other awesome things that I didn’t feel like writing about, like the tower of asterisks, the three letters combined into one character, or the ninja holding a hatchet. Maybe if you are kind of interested then you might enjoy this intersite that aims to explain the meaning of each character. If not, continue doing whatever you were.

2 thoughts on “J2 describes Unicode

  • 1/22/2008 at 12:32 pm

    I still do all my character encoding in EBCDIC


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