Recent research on sociolinguistics has shown that while the Internet is potentially a multilingual environment where users from different parts of the world can communicate and share information, the way that the Internet is structured makes access more difficult for users who are unfamiliar with the Roman alphabet. To promote language equality within Cyberspace and to encourage such people to use the Internet, a proposal for internationalised domain names (IDN) has been developed. We examine how far this and other proposals meet the needs of all types of Internet users. In the light of our findings, we describe an alternative approach which uses an intelligent URL search engine to enable users to access the Internet using their own language. We have tested our implemented prototype on a small sample of data. The results suggest that our approach provides a viable means of encouraging language diversity on the Internet by overcoming the language barrier posed by conventional Internet addresses.
- domain names
- Internet users
- language diversity
- search engine
- universal resource locator (URL)