Localizing web domain names

For internationalization engineers, an interesting paper by John C. Klensin, former Vice President of Internet Architecture at AT&T, a Distinguished Engineering Fellow at MCI WorldCom, and Principal Research Scientist at MIT, on “Internationalizing Top-Level Domain Names: Another Look”.

Small sample (TLD = top level domain) :

“…the presentation and interpretation of strings being used in email addresses, web locators, and other references is largely up to the user interface software and need be only loosely coupled with the protocols used over the network. It is still important to have some standardization of the forms of the strings (as presented) in order that users be able to share them with each other independent of their software environment. That issue is just an instance of a classic set of tradeoffs about optimizing interfaces. For example, assuming that either can be made to “work”, optimizing an interface for a particular homogeneous group of users makes that interface less convenient for others, while designing the same interface for international use tends to make it more or less compatible with everyone but not optimal for anyone. This is the reason why it has also been observed that, at the user interface level, no one wants internationalization: internationalization is only a useful tool for constructing versions of interfaces that localized to local language, script, and cultural habits.

In a localization model in which browsers, mail user agents, and other applications software are tailored to the needs and preferences of the local user, another solution emerges to the multilingual TLD requirement. That solution is to translate or map TLD names locally, rather than trying to make language-specific names global, and is described in the next section.”

Andrew Joscelyne
European, a language technology industry watcher since Electric Word was first published, sometime journalist, consultant, market analyst and animateur of projects. Interested in technologies for augmenting human intellectual endeavour, multilingual méssage, the history of language machines, the future of translation, and the life of the digital mindset.

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