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May 7, 2010

What is '.com' in Arabic?

Posted: 10:51 AM ET

If English is your first language, you probably take it for granted that all website suffixes - the .com's, .org's, .gov's and the like - come nicely packaged in Western characters, like the ones you're reading now.

But what if you spoke only Arabic? Or Chinese? Or Russian?

All of those languages make use of a completely different alphabet. And, until this week, none of those alphabets could be used in place of the ".com" portion of an internet address.

Now they can. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced this week that the first sites with all-Arabic Web addresses are now online.

“This isn’t just a minor change for the Internet, it’s a seismic shift that will forever change the online landscape,” Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN, said in a written statement issued Thursday.

“This is the beginning of a transition that will make the Internet more accessible and user friendly to millions around the globe, regardless of where they live or what language they speak.”

The first of these internationalized suffixes is the Arabic form of ".masr," which means "Egypt."

Egypt's internet suffix now will look like this: .eg or .مصر

The Arabic characters read right to left.

This may not sound like a big deal from a Western perspective, but when you flip this scenario around, it's easier to understand, said Brad White, a spokesman for ICANN. Say you wanted to type in the Web address for Google.com, but, instead of .com, you had to type in equivalent letters from the Cyrillic alphabet.

"You may not have Russian characters on your keyboard," he said.

White said the switch is part of a long, technical transition to include non-Western characters. The foreign letters first showed up in the main piece of a Web address - so the "CNN" rather than the ".com." But completing the transition is important, he said.

So far, Chinese and Russian characters haven't been included. But 21 countries have applied to have domain name suffixes in 11 different languages. So you'll likely see more of these popping up online soon.

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Filed under: Internet • Web browsers


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IllIlI   May 7th, 2010 11:23 am ET

I guess the real question the article should ask is....
Who cares?


sam   May 7th, 2010 11:37 am ET

Ur not the only ppl living in the world who need internet...


...   May 7th, 2010 11:42 am ET

@scott-Tucson

Very immature.


Chris   May 7th, 2010 11:47 am ET

Todd- How does this negatively effect Americans in any way? Now people in the Middle East will have a lot more information to make their judgments by, instead of the state run propaganda they had.


EnlightingU   May 7th, 2010 11:52 am ET

Chris the state-run propaganda in Arabic countries is as much against terrorism as the American media is against it, Arabs fight extremism as well guys...


Kily!   May 7th, 2010 12:11 pm ET

Gooooooooooo! Christianity!
😀 Google.com/eg


Kily!   May 7th, 2010 12:12 pm ET

and google!


Mr. Bentley   May 7th, 2010 12:16 pm ET

I don't claim to know much about Arabic culture but I can see that the people that decide to post on these blogs obviously don't either. It makes sense that any language be used for the "world wide web." English isn't the only language "world wide."


Joe   May 7th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

English should be the national Language of the world. It is the most widely spoken because America is still the dominant power in the world. If you go to someone else's country you best know their language but when you come here you dont need to learn english which is bs. We invented the internet and there needs to be standards. If you want to convert the page to display a different language fine, but the address should all be the same.


Indignant23   May 7th, 2010 12:27 pm ET

Forgive my lack of virulent enthusiasm on this topic but it seems like an only too blatant way for ICAAN to segment the market and establish additional revenue streams for their business model (I understand they are running out of distinct addresses and variations thereof to sell).

As an tech-junkie, I always thought the greatest accomplishment of the modern-day internet was accessibility to all, and the bringing of people from different parts of the world together, stimulating business, conversation and debate – in a common and universal language – english.

Just using the example above, will multinational businesses now have to purchase and maintain multiple language websites in different countries? How would the average consumer access these websites in other countries (given my keyboard cannot type arabic, hindi etc)? Would companies price products radically differently?

This can only lead to less freedom of information and the beginning of a chinese-styled internet walls, increased security barriers and (gasp) internet censoring.

Welcome to the beginning of the end of the internet as we knew it.


Ian Rodriguez   May 7th, 2010 12:46 pm ET

This is something that finally makes sense and a long time coming. The web isn't all in English, just go look and you can find it in just about any language there is even a English to Pig-Latin translator out there. If one of the ideals this country was founded on was the free press and the free distribution of information, it's hypocritical for there not to be multi-language support for the internet. How else are we to get information into the hands of those in Sudan, or China or the Middle East for that matter. And for every example of a "Great Firewall of China" out there, there exists a way around it. There are always autonimizers and IP masking tools on the internet to get around just about any technology. And while it is a way for ICANN to make more money, why is it bad that companies like ICANN make money and that if banks don't make money, the whole system is going to collapse? Get real, ICANN is a business and needs to pay it's employees like any other one.


Will C   May 7th, 2010 12:49 pm ET

Indignant,
How is bottlenecking the internet through the English language going to lead to progress?

I'd like to welcome you to planet earth, where people speak different languages.

Fortunately, people like yourself are not in charge.


Joedaddy   May 7th, 2010 12:52 pm ET

at other Joe,
English is considered the hardest language to learn, true it is widespread, but a worldwide language is just not feasible in this day and age. and no, America is not the dominant power in the world, they just think they are. Russia could SO whup you. I hate living here.


----   May 7th, 2010 12:59 pm ET

More people speak Chinese and Spanish than English in the world. So why not other languages as well. Good job


Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:04 pm ET

Scott that was funny!
You have been criticized by some people who find nothing wrong in a show ridiculing Jesus and Christianity but one single joke regarding a group of Middle Eastern people is OFF LIMITS and they belittle you by likening you to following a group of bison?

Typical liberals. We see what happens when THEY run the country. LMAO

Melissa


Jim H   May 7th, 2010 1:09 pm ET

With the trouble most English speakers have in reading and writing their own language this gives them the opportunity to be regularly wrong on a truly global scale!


Nathan Sokalski   May 7th, 2010 1:15 pm ET

I am very supportive of multi-language support for the Internet, but something that is, and always will be, necessary in order for the Internet (or, more accurately in this case, the World Wide Web) to remain world-wide communication, is a common standard for getting to the pages. Are these modifications going to simply be use of all unicode characters in the URL (unicode has enough room for over 65000 characters, so I would think there should be enough space for us all), or will the syntax and format of the URL be changing as well? Obviously IP will still be used behind the scenes (hopefully someday we will all be using IPv6, it seems like it's been long enough), but we still need someone to translate from a domain name to an IP address for us. But back to the point. If different places are using different languages, different pages will need to be made for us (some data may come from the same databases, but still), so the chances of us all communicating and looking at the same stuff like we do now is not real likely to happen. Once again, I strongly support multi-language usage on the Internet and WWW, but here is my final question: URLs are rarely words anyway, and any computer can be used to enter any character (has anyone ever used Character Map?), so what does what language you know have to do with the URL?


reuben   May 7th, 2010 1:27 pm ET

The only thing americans own is arrogance..


Troy   May 7th, 2010 1:28 pm ET

This doesn't mean anything to those of us who only write/speak English. So what if they can type it in their own language, why DO YOU CARE?

For those in other countries, this is a good thing for them. How would you of liked to type .com in Chinese only all of these years? It does nothing, hurts nothing and those of you who are whining against it are ignorant.

For the record, I'm American, only speak English... I just happen to be educated and informed before I decide to flip out about something (unlike several people that have previously posted comments here).


Mina   May 7th, 2010 1:36 pm ET

i live in Egypt and i like my .com , i don't see a reason to change it.


raf   May 7th, 2010 1:39 pm ET

i will not submit 🙂


Nick   May 7th, 2010 1:40 pm ET

Maybe Arabs want more access to local sports.
الجيش السوري يتوج بطلاً لدوري المحترفين السوري لكرة القدم بتغلبه الكبير على الطليعة بخماسية. أياكس أمستردام يتوج بطلاً لكأس هولندا لكرة القدم بتغلبه على فينوورد روتردام في ذهاب وإياب النهائي.


Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:42 pm ET

EnlightingU,
I agree with you; my point, exactly. All of us have the freedom of speech in this great country to bash and ridicule each other all day long. But should we?

Oh why not....it's easy to hide behind a computer and spout bs. LMAO
It's Friday everyone! Let's go have fun.

Melissa


Vadim   May 7th, 2010 1:42 pm ET

This is a big step, as all world domain name owners have to compete for domains that do not necessarily cover their target audience. With this step, English speaking countries will have more domain choices available, as well as countries with different alphabets. Who cares, someone asked? The world.


TrueAmerican   May 7th, 2010 1:44 pm ET

Dear Hossam Rafik: I wish more people look at the current situation with your perspective and not in simplistic terms like : west => infidel => enemy


dependsonwhatisis   May 7th, 2010 1:45 pm ET

"If English if your first language,"? Nice typo.

How about using the correct verb... If English "is" your first language


Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:46 pm ET

Oh crap! Am I being non-PC by saying "It's Friday everyone" Because of course you probably suspect I'm an American. Afterall, it's already Saturday in some parts of the world. I mean good Lord....who do we Americans think we are, right? I want to be totally politically correct here......

My apologies to everyone who is not in the USA. I'm a total ignorant person.

Melissa


Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:50 pm ET

Ok....my apologies for saying "good Lord."
Ok yes, you probably already guessed I'm Christian and I've totally disregarded using your god/idol/prophet in my expletive.

My apology to the masses!!! I'm logging off now.
Have a good ........weekend.
Melissa


EnlightingU   May 7th, 2010 1:53 pm ET

I would surprise off my computer screen Melissa. You'll know that every single word I said is true, you can test me.

Have a nice Friday

EnlightingU


Alex   May 7th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

"how ironic and uneducated this world getting ... EGYPT .. DOES NOT mean 'MASR' ... MASR is another name for the country .. EGYPT .. is 'ECIPT' or 'CIPT' the name of this country for 6 thousand years now."
---------
Wow, I thought I was the only one who knew that.


hasan kedwaii   May 7th, 2010 1:58 pm ET

Egypt's internet suffix now will look like this: .eg or .مصر

the dot in the arabic suffix is in the wrong place. if you are reading from right to left, the dot will come before مصر not after.

Phlamboozeled by lack of knowledge, once again....


Mark   May 7th, 2010 1:59 pm ET

"If English if your first language..."

EDIT EDIT EDIT!!!!!!


Sulima   May 7th, 2010 2:04 pm ET

@Joedaddy

A correction for you – English is NOT the hardest language to learn. It does however have the most words (though most of us use and know only a small subset of these words). There are much harder languages out there, including Polish, Hungarian, and many of the asian languages.


Mustapha Tatsuya Sing Kim Shinawatr Wu   May 7th, 2010 2:05 pm ET

This is a good thing for the non-English speaking world. The more others can communicate and pass on information in their own language the better for them. Anyone else will still be free to read it if you want. Just learn the language or get a decent translator. Detractors need to take their heads out of their colonial lower backs.


rtr   May 7th, 2010 2:11 pm ET

you all should stop wasting time and get back to work!


Avi shlomo   May 7th, 2010 2:12 pm ET

@rtr I say Amen to that


Emad   May 7th, 2010 2:14 pm ET

Thanks Avi. You said what's on my mind.
- From an Egyptian Copt


Luigi   May 7th, 2010 2:15 pm ET

@Joe: YOU invented the internet ??? Haha😀 Great joke.

The internet was invented in swiss by a guy called Tim Berners Lee. Great American'S think they invented everything. Sorry, I don't wnat to put all US citizens in one pot, but ... come on, guys like you make me think America only consists of rednecks (either color ;))


gerry   May 7th, 2010 2:17 pm ET

looks like.....usa to me


Anna   May 7th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

Hahaha. I find these comments amusing. For all you people who know "how the world works" don't know jack and if anyone disagrees with you, they're automatically racists. It's kinda like the Anti-War people protest war yet never served a day in their lives. Can't protest it if you never participated first-hand.


Inge   May 7th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

This has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism or religion. Would the reactions from some of the commentators have been the same if we had seen Chinese characters?

This article does show that people of many different nations with their corresponding languages, alphabets, associated keyboards, etc. now have enhanced capabilities to use the Internet.

I think this is great!


Hossam Rafik   May 7th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

is it the IANA or who handles this naming convension domain transilation thing ...

.eg comes from .egypt .. and it should be so with any letters in any language ...

its not '.mi', case it was never 'misr'

knock knock any brains in their heads, or do they go and ask the invadors of how they want to call the country they invaded ??

this is frustrating .. really ..

the west just follow what they are told, "all the middle east are arabs", which is total nonsense,

who build the pyramids ??? the saudi's ???


Chris   May 7th, 2010 2:30 pm ET

I think this is terrible idea. However, we cannot be surprised by the fact that business greed will always overcome logic. More people reached = more wallets reached.


bitmaster   May 7th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

@Luigi: TBL is a Brit who invented the World Wide Web while working at MIT. He DID NOT invent the internet. The WWW operates on the internet using HTTP.

We're not all rednecks here, but they are everywhere.


T.J.   May 7th, 2010 2:33 pm ET

Wow. Hard hitting journalism. Way to go CNN. Who cares?


Egypt   May 7th, 2010 2:35 pm ET

"¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

Do you guys really not realize that people have already written blogs and created websites in Arabic?!!! They all already exist; now they just have another extension to add to that list – like .fam, .eg


skokiesgirl   May 7th, 2010 2:35 pm ET

What does this mean to domain name owners? If you own CNN.com do you still own your domain name with the .com in foreign letters?


Brickell Princess   May 7th, 2010 2:39 pm ET

I am very supportive of multi-language support for the Internet, but something that is, and always will be, necessary in order for the Internet (or, more accurately in this case, the World Wide Web) to remain world-wide communication, is a common standard for getting to the pages. Are these modifications going to simply be use of all unicode characters in the URL (unicode has enough room for over 65000 characters, so I would think there should be enough space for us all), or will the syntax and format of the URL be changing as well? Obviously IP will still be used behind the scenes (hopefully someday we will all be using IPv6, it seems like it's been long enough), but we still need someone to translate from a domain name to an IP address for us. But back to the point. If different places are using different languages, different pages will need to be made for us (some data may come from the same databases, but still), so the chances of us all communicating and looking at the same stuff like we do now is not real likely to happen. Once again, I strongly support multi-language usage on the Internet and WWW, but here is my final question: URLs are rarely words anyway, and any computer can be used to enter any character (has anyone ever used Character Map?), so what does what language you know have to do with the URL?


bitmaster   May 7th, 2010 2:39 pm ET

correction – TBL was working at CERN when he invented the WWW. Wikipedia is a wonderful thing.


Norman   May 7th, 2010 2:39 pm ET

@ Joe – May 7th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

You said "English should be the national Language of the world. It is the most widely spoken because America is still the dominant power in the world."

However, but besides being wrong on just about everything else you said, you are also wrong on your comment about English being the most widely spoken language. In fact Chinese is the most widely spoken language.


Karim   May 7th, 2010 2:41 pm ET

For the funny person who posted who cares, I am not sure why you read the article to begin with if you do not care!!


Gen Y   May 7th, 2010 2:45 pm ET

"Who cares?"

From a technical and security standpoint it's a bad thing. Allowing full unicode addressing opens up the doors for all kinds of phishing attacks.

Back when computers were invented characters were mapped as single bytes. 7 or 8 bits. Before that it was baudot, 5 bits. For any non-kanji language 8 bits is usually plenty if all you're doing is your own character set. But nowhere near enough to encode all the character sets.

So, unicode expands the size of letters in memory to 16 bits, but in order to preserve character array sorting arithmetic rules in all languages, many western characters are duplicated repeatedly. Each looking the same but having a different code and thus being a different character so far as the computer is concerned.

Thus allowing people to register domains that look like, for example, cnn.com, but the C's aren't english ascii "c"s from the 8 bit western block but from somewhere off in 16 bit unicode and the site doesn't point to cnn at all.


JoMama   May 7th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

There goes the neighborhood.


Ehab   May 7th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

EnlightingU – you're wrong. I am a christinan born in Egypt. I am not an arab. The muslims are the arabs. They invaded Egypt many years ago.


don   May 7th, 2010 2:47 pm ET

rediculous?becuse they are arabic you think they arnt alowed to have internet ? dear jesus yall think u own everything .. americans are becoming greedy .


jam   May 7th, 2010 2:47 pm ET

Oh come on Todd!! Does America own the internet??


jaime   May 7th, 2010 2:53 pm ET

you guys are pretty racisit.


phillip v   May 7th, 2010 2:55 pm ET

Too all the people that think america is the best, no it isn't not even close you americans are so ignorant. i completely agree with this article though, it will help the whole world prosper a lot.


zach   May 7th, 2010 2:55 pm ET

The real question is,why is there a typo in the first sentence of this article.


HH   May 7th, 2010 2:56 pm ET

Reading some comments show me how some are not educated and we are on the 21st century, didn't you know it called WWW "World Wide Web”? And not owned by country. Do you think any one wants to do a bad thing will wait be waiting for a new web names? , grow up people let us teach the extremist a word peace, the chain has to be broken somewhere.........

Think to good future..........


Hilda   May 7th, 2010 2:59 pm ET

Hey, Todd just for your info: Middle East is also the home of millions of christians who are proud of their heritage as Christians. It happens I am one of them!!!! This is so sad that some people feel threatened just because of that! I live in America, my husband is American but there are other people out there who are smart, intellegent as well if not more...sorry, but your comment and others like you makes me feel wondering what is wrong with you guys? Why some of Americans are so isolated?


Serge   May 7th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

All I can say when I read through some of these blogs is that I get the same chills when I read about extremist 'pro-americans' than when I read about any other extremists of any kind in the world. But understanding the first kind is harder, provided in theory they have had more opportunities to be educated, see things for what they are and understand that before we are citizens of any country, we are all citizens of the 'world' and that entails variety in everything.

Peace,
S


Quentin Campbell   May 7th, 2010 3:02 pm ET

The possibilities is bigger then you can imagination...🙂


mike   May 7th, 2010 3:03 pm ET

To the person wrote .Bom

Do you know who is your father


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