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IDN chinese character variants

Many languages may have character variants that could potentially cause end-user confusion. At this time, the global registry at VeriSign is focusing on the Asian languages that use Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese characters.

Due to the complexity of many Chinese characters, a simplified version has been developed to simplify the most complex characters. This version of Chinese, Simplified Chinese, is used mainly in Mainland China. The other version, Traditional Chinese, is used mainly in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian countries. These two versions of Chinese share many characters. Other characters specific to Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese scripts may represent the same meaning. These characters have the same meaning and pronunciation but they do not look the same. These characters are called character variants and have the potential to cause confusion for end users when using Traditional and Simplified Chinese scripts to register domain names.

Chinese Variant Chart

For example, a user in mainland China entering a domain name in Simplified Chinese could be directed to one site, while another user in Taiwan entering what they would perceive as the same exact domain name in Traditional Chinese would be directed to a different destination.

IDN Example Containing Meaning
Simplified Chinese Character Variant Example 1 shared character + 1 simplified chinese character community or society
Traditional Chinese Character Variant Example 1 shared character + 1 traditional chinese character community or society

To some Chinese speakers, the two chinese characters circled in red above are equivalent - they have the same meaning. In the example IDNs above, some Chinese speakers may view these two IDNs as the same identifier. Therefore if these two IDNs were permitted to exist, there may be confusion for end-users.

To draw an analogy from English, it would be as if

COMMUNITY.com and community.com

were considered unique registrations. To an English speaker, despite the different lettercase, the domain names are equivalent and have the same meaning.

Solutions to chinese character variants

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Last update: November 20, 2002.

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