Egypt’s official language is Arabic†. China’s official language is Chinese*. OK fine, we knew that. But isn’t it a bit ironic that more than half of the world’s 1.6 billion internet users speak languages with non-Latin scripts, yet all internet domain names are written in Latin characters?
This is about to change, and it is already being hailed as the biggest change in the 40-year history of the internet. ICANN (see ‘Yes we can, says ICANN: new top-level domains coming in 2010‘) the body that regulates the internet, has announced plans to allow for so-called Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) by changing the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) in order to allow for website names to be written with non-Latin scripts such as Chinese, Cyrillic, and Arabic.
The Lobby thinks this sounds great – the more the merrier, but some have warned that this will only lead to fragmentation of the net…
The new IDNs will be introduced some time in 2010.
† Standard Arabic
* Standard Mandarin (spoken) & simplified Chinese (written)