Web users across the planet can now play around with their name in their own language (i.e. not English or other “Western-style” languages that use the same Latin alphabet that I am using to write this blog) thanks to the fact that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has commenced live testing of Internationalised Domain Names.
At the moment 11 languages are supported: Arabic, Persian, Simple Chinese (no - that’s not an oxymoron for us non Chinese speakers), Traditional Chinese, Cyrillic Russian, Devanagari Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil.
The wiki pages can be accessed by typing example.test in the characters of one of the 11 languages. ICANN has put a video explaining the evaluation process on YouTube. You can also find it here http://idn.icann.org The 11 evaluation wikis will remain online until IDNs are fully implemented and the first top-level domain is introduced in the evaluation language.
The full introduction of IDNs will mean that people can write the whole of a domain name in the characters used to write their own language. At the moment you can only use these characters before the dot, so .com, .net, .org and the like can only be written in characters from basic Latin. IDNs will change this so that literally tens of thousands of characters will be available to the world.