A revolution is coming in the way domain names are created and the way people access information on the internet. From November, domain names will now included characters with non-Latin scripts which means users can type in web addresses made up of Chinese, Russian Cyrillic, Hindu, and Arabic characters to name but a few. Rather than depending on a country specific suffix such as .kr for Korea or de. for Denmark, new addresses will be able to incorporate the standard .com suffix while using the characters of the language specific to that country.
Not only will users be able to register unique domain names, but established websites can adopt domain names in a translated form which re-directs to either the standard website or a translated website, therefore allowing them to diversify and increase their readership across the 1.6 billion worldwide users of the internet. It also has implications for users around the world who will now no longer need to type in domain addresses that are not in their native tongue, which may increase use over time, and will be more compatible with character-specific keyboards and hardware.
The decision by ICANN, the worldwide internet regulator, has been welcomed by industry experts as a way of making the internet more accessible to users, especially those who have felt intimidated by the language implications of a Western-centric web. The news also comes on the fortieth anniversary of the invention of the internet, which illustrates how long it has taken to get to this particular development. The first of these ‘Internationalised Domain Names’ could be introduced as early as July next year.
This news also has wide reaching implications for translators, who may see a steep increase in web localisation and web content translation to meet the needs of an ever-increasing international audience. Established sites will need to translate their content quickly if they wish to stay competitive with a truly global market, and new country-specific sites may need to include English translations of their content to appeal to Western users. These developments mean that for the first time in its history the World Wide Web will finally be just that.
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