For those of us whose first language is one in a Latin script, like German or English, getting online is easy. But if you don’t know a Latin language, and your only language is Arabic, Chinese, a Cyrillic language or one of the dozens that use non-Latin characters, life can be difficult. Recognising the characters in a domain name can be a problem. One country with this issue is India. Hindi, the most used, and English are the official national languages specified in the constitution. But there are another 20 languages that are officially recognised. State governments have the power to specify in legislation languages they officially recognise. And apart from English, none use Latin scripts.
To help bridge this gap and make the internet more accessible in India, ICANN has been working to support India’s 22 scheduled languages.
“Work is on for nine Indian scripts – Bengali, Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu. These scripts are expected to cover many different local languages,” ICANN India head Samiran Gupta told the Press Trust of India.
ICANN is working with local groups in India to develop rules to enable domain names in the local languages. When domain names are available in a local language, the intention is that this will encourage local content in the local language.
The panel to develop the rules is called the Neo-Brahmi Generation Panel and consists of more than 60 technical experts and linguists from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Singapore, where these languages and scripts are used, Gupta told PTI.
The proposals for six scripts – Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Oriya and Telugu – are already released for public comment.