Exporters to speak your language online

Exporters to speak your language online article image

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) hopes to roll out their Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) project after their next meeting in Korea later this year. Speaking today at the Sydney event, ICANN's senior director for IDN Tina Dam said the project would mean internet users could have any web address or email address in any language. "We've had these IDNs at the second level for some time, under the existing TLDs [top-level domains such as .com .info .au]. It's possible to implement these local characters from different languages in those domain names and that works fine for some communities, especially for those whose languages is based on Latin, but it doesn't work so well for other speakers," she said. IDNs would not just change things for languages with a different character set, but sometimes the whole orientation of typing, she explained: "In Arabic you type from right to left so you type in part of the address in Arabic right to left; can you imagine switching to typing the second part of that address in Latin from left to right? So we want to have this at the top level as well." This could also help exporters who wanted to reach their market in a non-Latin-based language if they advertised an internet address, particularly in print media. Dam gave the example of a Russian newspaper carrying an advertisement for a Russian website, which would currently carry the URL in Latin characters. This would be difficult for the reader to go to if they did not have a keyboard with Latin characters. Exporters could therefore buy domains in the language of their destination market. "They could select ... the different alphabets that they wanted to have, different addresses for that website depending on the languages they want to represent, what market they want to target," said Dam. "The caveat to that is under country codes, in some cases there are registration restrictions, like you have to live in the country." The project involves moving from a state where domains are limited to 37 characters to a state where there are 100,000 characters to choose from. The domain must only contain the alphabet from one character set to avoid confusion with similar looking language script. This news item follows: Internet addresses go global


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