Since its inception, the English language and Latin characters have dominated all that constituted the Internet, including domain names, owing to the network’s origins in the United States. With the Internet going global, other languages have requested representation. Now they are about to get it. Datamation finds out which languages will be first.
The move towards a fully Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) system took a step forward today. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has announced the first four countries that have completed a key milestone in the IDN process — an effort to expand domain names to support non-Latin alphabets.
Arabic and Cyrillic are likely to be the first two character sets used through the initiative, with Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates now set to be the first countries with IDNs.
All four have passed the language character (or string) evaluation as part of the IDN process that ICANN started at the end of 2009. String evaluation is an important step in the process for a number of reasons.
“First of all, this is the first time we are about to insert IDN TLDs in the DNS root zone, [making the] first internationalized extensions to be available for registration,” Tina Dam, ICANN’s senior director of IDNs, told InternetNews.com. “As such, we need to make sure that certain technical criteria is followed so that we do not run into technical problems down the road. Another piece of the string evaluation is to make sure that the strings are not confusingly similar to existing TLDs/extensions. That would cause user confusion, which needs to be avoided.”