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RE: Urdu IDNs: Characters in domain names

From: Martin Duerst <duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 15:36:33 +0900
Message-Id: <>
To: "Sarmad Hussain" <sarmad.hussain@nu.edu.pk>, "'Richard Ishida'" <ishida@w3.org>
Cc: "'Jonathan Rosenne'" <rosennej@qsm.co.il>, <www-international@w3.org>, <public-iri@w3.org>, <psayo@idrc.org.in>, "'Maria Ng Lee Hoon'" <mng@idrc.org.sg>, "'nayyara.karamat -'" <nayyara.karamat@nu.edu.pk>, <cc@panl10n.net>

Hello Sarmad,

At 16:45 07/08/13, Sarmad Hussain wrote:
>Dear All,
>Thank you all for your valuable input.  We will be looking at all these
>points raised, in detail, as we work.
>However, I submit a couple of additional observations. 
>First, the aim of internet should be to become MULTI-LINGUAL not just
>"Multi-script", latter solution only serving the multi-lingual needs of the
>people in a limited way.  

Of course the basic aim of the Internet is to be multilingual.
Web pages and email messages are in (a) certain language(s), and
it should be possible (and mostly already is) to use the widest
range of languages in such places.

However, it may be ill-advised and counter-productive to require
multilingual support in areas where multiscript support is all
that is needed, indeed where providing multilingual support
would create more problems than solutions.

A typical example of this, already mentioned in my previous mail,
are top-level domain names. For several decades in a restricted
usership, and at least for a full decade in wide deployment among
very varied userships, the existing top-level domain names have
served a wide range of people using a wide range of languages
written in the Latin script, despite not being multilingual.

I have not seen or heard any evidence that the non-multilingualness
of Latin-script TLDs is a problem. Thinking about it, it actually
provides quite a few benefits.

As an example, consider the TLD for Switzerland, "ch".
Switzerland is a multilingual country with four official
languages (see top left of http://www.admin.ch/).
It would only be confusing both inside Switzerland as well
as outside if different languages used differnt TLDs for
Switzerland. For many people, the "ch" is just conventional,
best known because it appears on the back of many cars.
The "ch" is actually taken from the Latin (language, not
script) name of the country, "Confoederatio Helvetica",
but many people don't realize that, and for TLDs, it doesn't
really matter. What matters is that people who want to know
the TLD of Switzerland can look it up, can remember it,
can type it, and so on. It's a benefit if a TLD is easily
derivable from the country name (e.g. "fr" for France),
but it's not always so, because otherwise, there would
be clashes. It would be very confusing if a TLD changed
depending on language (e.g. "ge" for Germany in English
rather than the current "de" (Deutschland, Germany in German),
or "al" for Allemagne (Germany in French), or the many
other names that Germany has in various languages. It might
help some people a tiny bit, but it would make it impossible
to send URIs using these TLDs across language boundaries,
and would lead to conflicts because there are only so many
two-letter combinations.

I don't know exactly how many languages are used (written as
well as spoken) in Pakistan, but I know that it's more than
just one. I think it would be very much advisable to use the
same Arabic-script TLDs for all the languages written in
Arabic script. And of course what's the case inside Pakistan
can, with a little bit more work, also be applied across
the whole region that uses the Arabic script.

>Second, we must find solutions which may challenge technology for
>facilitating people, not solutions which challenge people to facilitate

Again, very much agreed. But let's not try to work on solutions
where none are required (see above), and let's not try to work
on solutions where none are possible. Technology is very
flexible, but it has its limits, too.

Regards,    Martin.

#-#-#  Martin J. Du"rst, Assoc. Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
#-#-#  http://www.sw.it.aoyama.ac.jp       mailto:duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp     
Received on Monday, 20 August 2007 07:07:20 UTC

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