萬維網 – a Web That’s World Wide

Or even والشبكة العالمية

The language of tomorrow’s web won’t be English – nor will the script.

ICANN’s website has a video that explains the system of Internationalised Domain Names.

The Press Release states:

Seoul: The first Internet addresses containing non-Latin characters from start to finish will soon be online thanks to today’s approval of the new Internationalized Domain Name Fast Track Process by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board.

“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.”

ICANN’s Fast Track Process launches on 16 November 2009. It will allow nations and territories to apply for Internet extensions reflecting their name – and made up of characters from their national language. If the applications meet criteria that includes government and community support and a stability evaluation, the applicants will be approved to start accepting registrations. ICANN will consider applications from countries for new top level domains, or Internet extensions, based on each nation’s character set.

Initially, the change will apply only to local country codes, such as .kr for Korea and .ru for Russia. Major top level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .net., and .org won’t see non-Latin editions just yet. But ICANN is pushing to make progress on these major TLDs and hopes to include them in the IDN system before long.

” This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet ,” said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s President and CEO. “The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online – people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives.”

Retweet information »

Comments

  1. Coincidentally, there’s this article “The Cosmopolitan Tongue: The Universality of English” at World Affairs: A Journal of Ideas And Debate, here. The author asks: “As we assess our linguistic future as a species, a basic question remains. Would it be inherently evil if there were not 6,000 spoken languages but one?” and that one is English.

    DC

  2. David’s quote from that World Affairs article skims over the “discomfort” mentioned in the piece about “particular associations with English and its history.”

    A thousand years ago, the lingua franca of the Mediterranean world was Arabic. A thousand years before that, it was Latin and Greek. The only thing distinguishing the modern English era from the previous ones is the military domination and physical and cultural genocide that was used to forcibly spread the English language to every corner of the globe. Even the Romans, who were clearly a militaristic empire, allowed local languages to flourish, and used Latin and Greek for commerce and academia.

    There is no doubt in my mind that another thousand years from now everyone will be speaking an entirely different language. The process in which this occurs, through military conquest or more gradually through commerce and trade, is something I’m far more concerned with than retaining any monopoly on the only language I speak fluently.

    Will non-Latin characters make my web browsing more challenging? Possibly, but I don’t regularly do legal research on South Korean websites. Like everything on the Internet, innovation will probably address that challenge as well.

  3. As an aside, I love that WordPress has managed to generate a URL from your blog post title with the non-Latin characters you have used. Unfortunately when I try to copy and paste it, it gets “translated”:
    http://www.slaw.ca/2009/10/30/%E8%90%AC%E7%B6%AD%E7%B6%B2-a-web-thats-world-wide/

  4. The URL works fine pasted into Mozilla – I wonder whether it needs a different font set. The Arabic in the first paragraph reproduces beautifully. I hadn’t realized until Friday that the Google translation engine goes beyond Babelfish in rendering to/from Arabic.

    Another tip of the hat to Stan Freedman, who reminds me that the לַאִינטֶרנֶט is a vital part of Israel, and that Hebrew domain names will be available soon.

    And apropos of Omar, as my post yesterday noted, the first use of Arabic script in a printed English book involved a law book.