Why do emoji point backwards?

English is read left to right.

Why are these emoji facing the wrong way?

:fish: :elephant: :mechanical_leg: :dodo: :horse_racing:

If I write the horse race was exciting. It seems like you expect the :horse_racing: to run in the direction you read.

Maybe emoji are not all based on left to right language users.

Emoji often comes after text. :slight_smile:

Also the concept of emoji originally comes from Japan where text goes right to left.


You have it backwards. IIRC in Egyptian the animals/people always face the beginning of the line.

Does it indeed come from Japan? In any case, Japanese is traditionally written top to bottom, right to left. Japanese orthography is based on Chinese characters, but I am not sure if the pictograms have a preferred orientation as in Ancient Egyptian (here is a cow, ~2nd millennium BC:

). A good question.

I remember the old school emoticons “:-)” "; )° “:O” face left to right.

I used them a lot on Usenet posts.


絵 e (picture)
文 moji (character)

I guess you’re right though, Japanese is only right to left if written vertically. So for the cell phones that emojis come from, that wouldn’t be the case.

However, if you’re texting someone their speech bubble points to the left side of the screen. Maybe that’s why?


Because there is a new British monarch, custom dictates that all emojis will now face in the opposite direction.

That’s what I’ve read, anyway.

The horse is running just fine. It’s just in the backstretch, is all.

The answer would appear to be in the Unicode Technical standard for emoji.

Thank you @Francis_Vaughan.

I would have never thought to check that technical source.

FWIW, this mildly annoys me often when I talk to a friend about walking her dog. I put a :man_walking::service_dog: at the end of my text, but it seems like it would make more sense if we were facing the other direction :sweat_smile:

In Europe, horse races are run clockwise.

One can’t go without mentioning this one:

The logic is impeccable, the result debatable.

‘Well, If they didn’t use precautions, he could be up the spout.’ (Red Dwarf, ‘Parallel Universe’)

Do we count as Europe these days?

Scroll down for the list. It’s not a fifty-fifty split, but there are plenty of left and right handed tracks.


I see those as top-on-the-left. Not as front-on-the-left. They only make sense as a visual simile if you turn your head sideways to read them. Not true of the pregnant woman, the running horse, etc.

Clockwise as seen from above or from below?

In England they’re run counter-clockwise.

It is a bit more subtle.

:pregnant_man: :pregnant_woman: