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Latin characters will no longer be the only option

Internet in language overhaul

The internet is set to receive a most significant wholesale update as web addresses get ready to include non-english languages.

Websites such as visitkorea.or.kr can soon drop the English characters in favour of its native text, while the official Iraqi Parliament website will no longer need to be www.parliament.iq, and instead be written in Arabic, or Russian, or Hindi, or any language at all.

The move is expected to be agreed shortly during a Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meeting this Friday in Seoul.

Allowing websites to not just be based on Latin text, the theory goes, will make the web more accessible for many people around the world.

"This is the biggest change technically to the internet since it was invented 40 years ago," said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board.

The floodgates to non-Latin URLs are set to open “mid 2010”.

It is thought that over half of the 1.6 billion internet users in the world today are not native to Latin languages.

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