ICANN has switched on, as the BBC reports, the change to web addressing that allows addresses to be fully specified in non-Latin characters. The first additions are three Arabic-script country top level domains which are now in the root DNS.

Previously, the top level country domain at least had to be in Latin, like .eg for Egypt which can now be مصر (promounced “Misr”). It does appear, though, that the “http://” survives in Latin. But Google, with Chrome, is planning to do away with that too (lost the reference to that news, so it’s not in the links. Please comment if you can find it for me).

Editing note: I copied that script for egypt-in-arabic from the BBC website, who copied it from ICANN. It’s in this page in native Arabic, not unicode codes, so if it doesn’t look right then maybe you need to install the Arabic language on your computer, as I have.

More of a problem: it proved quite difficult to get back to the right-hand end of the line after the little insertion of right-to-left script. Maybe that’s what the Beeb meant when it quoted ICANN as admitting there is “still some work to do before they [work] correctly for everyone” (no, it must be more than that). But watch for the explosion of, particularly I guess, Chinese-character domains without the work-round that’s been used till now.

Anyhow, it becomes official today. Read the BBC report for more detail.

• ‘Historic’ day as first non-latin web addresses go live: BBC News, 6 May 2010
• First IDN ccTLDs Available, ICANN, 5 May 2010
or see a less formal (more informative) version:
First IDN ccTLDs now available, ICANN blog, 5 May 2010

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