polyglot (the name) up for sale

ENLASO is selling (may have sold by now) its wonderfully evocative and brilliantly business-attractive polyglot.com domain rights, originally created in July 1995 and up for grabs in July 2005. Fools rush in…

Don’t you feel an end-of-an-epoch shiver about names like polyglot and babel? In an online world of powerful search engines, where multilingual domain naming is bound to go mainstream, and with multilinguality etching its way into the web’s DNA, those first generation real estate monikers sound oddly passé.

From a marketing perspective, polyglot will of course slip neatly into the language of advertising taxonomies. Which is presumably why it is going on sale. But in other ways, online habits are changing fast. As users, we go straight to the knowledge, not to website names – those quaint stopping points on the information highway, another sepia tint expression from the time when politicians were trying to leverage the old communication paradigm of driving cars into a glorious future.

What if search engines take over from websites as the key portals to knowledge and services? What if translation is increasingly carried out by pushing a translate button, not by visiting a translation supplier’s website? What, in a word, if online translation becomes a global grid function instead of a local choice? In this sort of regime, website names would lose their apparent value, and money from translation would be earned other ways.

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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