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Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Nov 2 15:10:04 UTC 2006

November 1, 2006
Bridging the Web's 'Linguistic Divide'

Since its inception, the Internet's domain-name system has made a point to
accommodate only English-language characters. That provision has helped
streamline the engineering of the Web, but according to delegates at a
recent United Nations summit, it has left speakers of Russian, Arabic, Lao
and the like out in the cold. At the meeting, held in Athens, speakers
argued that the Web's apparent love of English has marginalized many
surfers in developing nations. "I think the digital divide is not as
important as the linguistic divide,"  said Adama Samasskou, president of
the African Academy of Languages, according to CNET.

Help for non-English speakers may be on the way: Although it took years of
work, Web browsers including Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet
Explorer now support characters from other languages. --Brock Read


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