DNS Goes Multi-Lingual


ICANN approves top-level domains in Arabic, Russian, and Chinese.

For the first time in Internet history, new top-level domains are available for non-European languages.

Despite the proliferation of Internet domain names around the world, the number of Top-Level Domains (TLDs -- .com, .net, .org, etc.) has been stuck at 22 for several years. The Internet's registration organization ICANN decided back in 2011 to relax the restrictions on top-level domains, and applications have been in the works from countries, companies, and organizations wishing to add other TLDs to the Internet's address book.

The DNS system, which was originally invented by the US military, is designed to work with English words, and major Western European languages, which share a similar alphabet, have managed to make effective use of the namespace. However, languages with a radically different alphabet are at a disadvantage for building intuitive names. Russia, for instance, has threatened in the past to start a separate name system just to support users who wish to name their sites using the Cyrillic alphabet.

At a conference in Durban, South Africa, ICANN has decided to add four new top-level domains coded in a specific language and not in English. Specifically, the domains are:

شبكة, Arabic for "Web" or "net"
онлайн, Russian for "online"
сайт, Russian for "website"
游戏, Chinese for "game"

The application fee for a top-level domain is US$185,000. Several other proposed domain names are making their way through the process, some associated with specific companies and others centered around product categories. Examples include .beauty, .Amazon, and .pizza. Despite the phenomenal success of Amazon as an Internet vendor, experts predict they will have problems securing the top-level spot because the name is also associated with a previously-named geographical entity (anyone remember the river)?


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