At its recent meeting in Paris, ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names, the organization that controls the assignment of domain names – made a number of announcements. The one that received the most press was the revelation that there would be new generic top level domains (gTLDs) available in 2009. A gTLD is the letters that come after the dot in a URL string – such as .com, .biz or .org. Any and all new gTLDs will be considered starting next year.

This news overshadowed the other announcement that was made at the meeting. Specifically, that international domain names (IDNs) will soon be able to include non-Roman characters.

This was by far the more important announcement.

Currently, all domain names use exclusively Roman characters. This means that although countries may have their own Country Code (ccTLD), such as .cn (China), .in (India) or .ru (Russia), the domain names are rendered in Roman characters – not in the language that is native to that country.

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