After a long wait, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has finally taken some steps to make web-addresses that are not based on the Latin alphabet a reality. In other words, the Internet is going to get a lot more friendlier for a major part of the global population.
A proposal for the use of non-English characters in web addresses is up for consideration. The proposed change is called Internationalized Domain Names or IDNs. At present non-English characters can only be used in a section of a web address. Once IDNs become a reality, native web-users from Japan, China, Russia, Arabia and Korea and many other nations will be able to fully browse through the net in their very own languages. The most obvious result of this development would be a significant leap in internet usage across many parts of the world. Another result of this development will be a growing need for translation services and localization because of the rise of cultural and linguistic diversity within the online population.
From the press release:
"The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago," said ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush. "Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters – A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."
Though they have not been put to use on a global scale, IDNs are not a new concept, on the contrary they been hotly debated for around a decade. There has been a lot of doubt about whether IDNs as a concept could work, however thanks to countries like China and the fact that over half of the 1.6 billion internet users are not familiar with Latin characters, ICANN has been led to consider IDN.
The organization has been testing the translation technology that can convert from one character set to another and deliver the correct address for over a couple of years now and is confident about its success. ICANN will be reviewing this historic proposal at the 36th International Public Meeting in Seoul and if the body approves it then we could be seeing the use of IDNs by mid of the coming year.
Other posts :
Facts and Figures about the Language Industry
The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!
How to generate random numbers within a T-SQL query
Domain registration and one full year of Web hosting for Free!
Free software tools for students
Big news in the translation industry