Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization that oversees Internet domain addresses, endorsed a move on October 30 that will allow for domains to be published and accessed using non-Latin alphabets. Starting next year, Web sites will be produced using non-Latin scripts, an act that will allow for an Internet that better reflects international diversity and multilingualism.
ICANN President and Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom called this a “historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet,” according to the New York Times. An estimated 1.5 billion people use non-Latin based languages, according an Associated Press article. Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese are among the major languages to be added to domain names.
I think this is a brilliant move toward accepting international diversity and it is unbelievable that this change has not already been incorporated into Web usage, especially since so many non-Western countries have been at the forefront of developing Web technologies and the majority of people in the world do not speak Latin-based languages. I’m curious to see what this will do for the Internet and online news media, especially as online networks are to expand through this action.
And now that the Internet will move to multilingualism and be accessible to more people from all corners of the world, I’m wondering what complications, if any, this will create. How will this affect search engines and online databases? Even though this move will expand access to people who are less familiar or proficient with Latin-based characters, will this also hinder access to others?