Just a couple of snippets of information to add into this discussion that
people might find interesting.
The first considers the design of URLs for bilingual sites, the following is
taken from the Government of Canada "Common Look and Feel for the Internet"
7.1 All GoC institutions must register their gc.ca domain names using at
least one of the two following domain name conventions.
(a) a name or acronym that represents the institution's primary purpose in
both official languages, e.g. www.canada.justice.gc.ca, www.ic.gc.ca
(b) 2 acronyms or names- one with the English first, the other giving
prominence to the French, e.g. pco-bcp.gc.ca and bcp-pco.gc.ca and
As you can tell from their own URL, option (b) is a highly effective way of
producing URLs that are memorable and meaningful to speakers of either
The other snippet is an article that was posted at Eurolang www.eurolang.net
on the use of accents in Frisian URLs.
FRISIAN MOVEMENT DEMANDS THE USE OF 'THE RIGHT ACCENTS' ON FRISIAN INTERNET
ADDRESSES Onno P. Falkena, LJOUWERT/LEEUWARDEN 3/30/2004
The Council of the Frisian Movement, Fryske Beweging, has asked the Dutch
Foundation for the Registration of Internet Domains 'SIDN' to allow the use
of Frisian accents on internet and e-mail addresses as soon as possible.
Following the news that the German Umlaut on letters such as ö and ü will
be accepted on German internet addresses, the Frisian umbrella organisation
demands the same for the â, ê, ô, û and ú, which are widely used in Frisian.
Because of technical, operational and juridical complications SIDN has
prohibited until now the use of symbols other than plain letters and numbers
for internet domains with the extension .nl.
"It is unacceptable that we are forced to spell our Frisian names wrongly",
spokesman Reitze Jonkman of the Fryske Beweging says. Even the official name
for Friesland in Frisian, Fryslân, is decapitated from its 'little roof', as
the Frisians usually call their preferred accent, when it comes to internet
and e-mail addresses. As soon as international agreements allow the Germans
to use their Umlaut and the French to use their circumflex accent, Frisians
should be able to use the same punctuation marks that Frisian shares with
the French language, according to the Fryske Beweging.
The internet domain authority SIDN has reacted by appointing a committee to
study the possible consequences of the introduction of special signs in
internationalised domain names for both SIDN itself and Dutch internet
providers. SIDN is also involved in close contact with comparable
organisations in other countries and various international committees. Apart
from the Fryske Beweging, SIDN has also received requests from foreign
organisations in the Netherlands, who have asked for the possibility to
register their internet domain name in Arabic, Chinese or Hebrew letters.
"If you ask my opinion it was a mistake to allow the usage of the Umlaut in
internet addresses", special advisor Piet Beertema of SIDN comments. Former
scientist Beertema was the first Dutchman ever with on-line contact with the
United States, 25 years ago and perceived as an authority on e-mail and the
"We now have an internationally standardized alphabet of 24 letters. I have
nothing against Frisian, but if we allow all signs from all European
languages we will end up with a most complicated alphabet with well over 80
letters. And then there are different ways of getting an â. Some people type
the ^ first and then the 'a', others work with a certain code. It will
certainly complicate the exchange of e-mail and internet addresses. And
personally I do not see the point either, because anyone knows that Fryslan
is Fryslân anyway."
"We trust that it will be possible to use 'roofs' and other accents in the
near future", argues Jonkman. "Technical impediments should never hinder a
correct and free use of a minority language."
SIDN however declares that further study of the possible use of 'accents'
within the nl-domain will take some time. Beertema considers the battle for
signs in internet addresses as 'nonsense'. "In order to function properly on
the internet people and organisations involved will be used to register
themselves both with and without the sign. I am aware of the fact that the
pressure to accept names with special accents as an internet domain name is
growing, but that does not necessarily mean that it is a good idea."
Be seeing you,
Minority Cultures and ICT Group
School of Computing
University of Glamorgan
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