A few hours before playing in the 2022 US Open final, tennis player Carlos Alcaraz tweeted this
🧠❤️🥚🥚— Carlos Alcaraz (@carlosalcaraz) September 11, 2022
Eggs (“huevos”) in spanish means the equivalent of “balls” in english.
In such a short length Carlos was able to convey the requirements for a successful final match: brains, heart, and… uuh… courage! His grandfather used to tell him that, so it must be an ancient formula.
The tweet was shown on the live broadcast. Upon seeing it I was surprised at the efficiency in the length of the message vs. the intended meaning. Here is the UTF-8 encoding:
F0 9F A7 A0
EE 80 A2
F0 9F A5 9A
F0 9F A5 9A
The tweet fits in only 15 bytes of data.
Let’s look at a possible equivalent short message in english:
brain, heart, balls
The first 128 Unicode characters only take 1 byte to represent, so the message fits in 19 bytes: 27% more than the Emoji version.
🍔 = ❤— Burger King (@BurgerKing) November 15, 2014
Comparing with the short translation
burger = love (13 bytes), the tweet is still shorter at 9 bytes (31% less data). One could also write
burger = <3, but I’d consider that going into Emoji language (and it’s still 2 bytes longer than BK’s tweet).
However, in Alcaraz’s tweet particular case the Emoji language isn’t enough to convey the full meaning of the message. The reader has to be familiar with Spanish slang to get the genital meaning of “huevos”. Curiously, Emoji language also has its own “slang” with certain characters meaning something specific to a certain group. This report about kids Emoji slang is hilarious:
More recently, anti-vax groups have used the 🥕 emoji instead of the word “vaccine” to escape Facebook censorship, also leading to some funny posts where it looks like people get sick after eating one too many carrots:
Just got invited to a Facebook group with a couple of hundred thousand members where people share stories about why they think the Covid vaccine killed people they knew. But instead of saying vaccine they use the 🥕 symbol, presumably to evade censorship. Very odd pic.twitter.com/mvXBv1aXBX— Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) September 11, 2022