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Let’s Learn IDNs — .中文网 (Chinese Website)

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2013, Domain Registries

Today, the belated first in an irregular series of articles devoted to making new IDN gTLDs more recognizable to the majority of DI readers who use the Latin alphabet in their native tongue.
Let’s Learn IDNs, as I said in my introduction to the series, won’t teach you Greek, but it will hopefully make it easier to instinctively know what a Greek IDN means when you see it.
I’m hoping this will prove very useful for everyone with an interest in the new gTLD program, bringing meaning to what otherwise would be an incomprehensible string of gibberish.
For the first lesson, we’re looking at TLD Registry‘s .中文网, which I guarantee after today you’ll never forget.
Chinese (Simplified)
Chinese. According to the registry, this includes “Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and over 250 other Chinese dialects.”
Zhōng Wén Wǎng
Jong (rhymes with long)
When (as in “when are you arriving”)
Wong (rhymes with long)
How to Learn this IDN
In Chinese, each character generally represents a syllable and will often also have meaning as a word in its own right, which is the case with the three characters of .中文网.
Helpfully, these characters are also pictograms that pretty much explain themselves.
(Zhōng) is a line going through the middle of a box. It means “middle”. It’s also the first character of the Chinese word for “China” — 中国, which literally means “Middle Kingdom”.
(Wén) looks like a little writing desk with a quill on top. It means “language”. Combine it with 中 to get 中文, which means “Chinese Language”.
(Wǎng) looks like a net (or maybe a cobweb). It’s the Simplified Chinese word for “net”, which the Chinese also use to refer to the internet or web.
“Altogether, 中文网 as a gTLD string, is two words that make one common Chinese language expression: Chinese-language (中文) website (网),” said TLD Registry’s head of comms Simon Cousins.
Dead easy, right?
Certainly, since Cousins first explained this to me a few months ago, I’ve never failed to recognize .中文网 whenever I’ve seen it.

Let’s Learn IDNs!

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2013, Domain Registries

The eagle-eyed regular DI reader will have noticed earlier today that I published an article claiming the first new gTLD had already gone live. Not only that, it already had a resolving web site!
That was dead wrong. The story lasted about a minute before I yanked it.
I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say that the confusion arose because I don’t read a word of Arabic.
I don’t read a character of Arabic either. I don’t even know where one character ends and the next begins. Or, given the way the script functions, where one begins and the next ends.
So I thought today would be an excellent time to launch Let’s Learn IDNs!, an irregular series of posts in which I, with a significant amount of help from new gTLD registries, attempt to explain IDN strings.
I’m guessing there are a large number of readers out there whose eyes, like mine, glaze over whenever they see an IDN.
We can’t tell one Chinese (or Arabic, Cyrillic, Hebrew…) TLD from another, but it would probably make our professional lives a fair bit easier if we could.
Let’s Learn IDNs! will therefore contain just enough information to help DI’s largely Latin-script-using readers recognize an IDN when they see one.
I’m not going to attempt to teach anyone Greek, but hopefully you’ll be able to come away from the series with a better chance of telling the difference between .新闻 and .八卦.
Which is obviously hugely, hugely important.
(That’s DI’s first joke in Chinese. Thanks.)
The first post, coming later today or tomorrow, will focus on TLD Registry’s .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”).
If you’re an IDN gTLD registry and I’ve not reached out to you already, feel free to get in touch to find out how to get a Let’s Learn IDNs! post for your own string.