Chinese keyboardI take it for granted that most of the content I want to view on the web will be in my native language, English, and I merely have to type the website’s name into my browser to navigate to the site.

For speakers of languages with non-Latin based writing systems (including Arabic, Cyrillic and Chinese), this is not the case. To navigate to websites, they need to type in characters such as the ones you see here. And for those unfamiliar with Latin letters, this proves a hindrance to accessing content.

Last month, however, the internet regulator Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved the use of different alphabets, ending the dominance of Latin alphabets such as English.

It’s been hailed as a big move which can increase accessibility to the web, especially among those unfamiliar with Latin letters:

The impact will vary by location, with more remote countries seeing the biggest expansion. Rod Beckstrom, Icann’s president, called the step “a historic move toward the internationalisation of the internet … We just made the internet much more accessible to millions of people in regions such as Asia, the Middle East and Russia.” (Source:

With the first official international web addresses expected in 2010, you could perhaps be logging on to 语言-博物院.com soon!