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Since the beginning of the Internet, pretty much everything technical relating to the web has mailnly been handled in English, moreover, US english. Sure if you took a minute to look at the source code of this very website, you can see the frequent use of US english used in order to built this website.

Needless to say, a lot of people weren’t very happy about this. Why, if my native language is Chinese, could I not get a website address that matched the way I wrote it exactly. Well the reason why it was not possible is a little technical. In simple terms, the system that enables non technical people to enter a simple website addresses such as Google.com and be directed to a particular computer located “somewhere” on the Internet was not capable of doing this.

Last year, the body (yes an American body) who oversees the assignment of domain names, ICANN approved the creation of domain names using non-latin based characters. In the past 24 hours, ICANN announced that there were at least 3 websites now using the now available non-latin domain names.

They give one example, وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر – hopefully that will work for you and direct you to a website. If not, it looks like your browser doesn’t have full IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) support. You should think about updating your browser!

So what does that mean for you?

Well it could possibly mean many things. The above domain name means absolutely nothing to me – so I’m assuming I’m not missing out on much there. But if it does make sense to you and you are using an English keyboard, you might have serious difficulty typing this address into the address field of your browser. Google have of course got a solution for this, but not specifically for this reason.

For me, I know it will mean that when travelling, I may not recognise a web address on an advertising billboard or possibly even on someones business card. I’m sure we’ll hit a few stumbling blocks when designing websites since we’re not familiar with web addresses like this!

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