Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ICANN Will Allow Domain Names in Many Languages

The debut of domain names in languages that don’t rely on the Roman alphabet is a major international development.

-Melissa Chang, founder of Pure Incubation, an Internet incubator firm

In Melissa Chang, "Chinese, Arabic and Hindi Domain Names to Go Up for Sale – Finally!" The Internet Standard, July 8, 2008

Currently, all domain names use exclusively Roman characters. That is because the domain name system relies on ASCII, which is based on the English alphabet. The decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), the organization that controls the assignment of domain names, to allow non-Roman character IDNs will happen because the organization has decided that domain names can be based on Unicode, a standard that allows the majority of the world’s languages to be represented correctly by computers. "The effort to make this change is being worked on and tested currently. There are a few issues related to rendering some characters due to technical instability and unavailability, but Unicode characters should be ready to fast track come 2009." As Chang notes, "As the world’s population shifts, and the languages based on the Roman alphabet continue to decline in dominance, this decision will only continue to grow in importance."

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