The Fall of the Web’s Latin Hegemony

Imagine you are Chinese, Egyptian, or Russian. Now, imagine that over the past few decades, you’ve been driving your car throughout your homeland, navigating with Latin language traffic signs. Annoying, but doable. Then suddenly, the signs have been replaced with your native language.

Welcome to the web's non-Latin language domains.

"You should have seen the Russian celebration of this, it was so emotional. Suddenly their own language can be used," says Tina Dam, Senior Director of International Domain Names for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which is working on implementing 21 international applications for domain names in 11 languages. "This is the biggest change in the Internet in 40 years."

For example, let's say you wanted to go to the office of the President of the Russian federation, you type in "president.rf" Today, the Cyrillic address is http://президент.рф/

To be sure, there’s plenty of security work that lies ahead. We’ll need to thwart a new wave of spammers and phishers hoping you’ll click on a non-Latin language link. But the language liberation has begun. You can’t unshout this booming crowd.