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To Meow or not to Meow: .CAT TLD approved by ICANN

The Sponsored TLD .CAT got the green light to move ahead from ICANN this week, another of the sTLD proposals in the second round of submissions to gain momentum toward being added to the root.

When I shared the news today with folks, the most common response was a tongue in cheek response, ‘Where is .DOG?’.

[I suppose that one could look at the forward and halt momentum loops that ICM Registry are experiencing with .XXX as a scenario not unlike cruelly naming your dog ‘Stay’, and then calling him. (c’mere stay, c’mere stay, etc.]

Still, comedy aside, this is not a TLD for animal species, but rather for a language.

As opposed to .CAT being a feline lover’s TLD, the charter is focused around the Catalan language. Core, who performs technical registry functions for .Museum and .Aero will operate the technical back end for the .CAT registry.

The ICANN Press Release
15 September - Marina del Rey, California -
The ICANN Board of Directors today approved the contractual arrangement with Fundaci? puntCAT for the introduction of a new .CAT, a sponsored top level domain (sTLD), for the Catalan language community. The Board noted the written communications it had received from the governments of Spain and Andorra not objecting to the .CAT application.

The Board also considered an agreement for the proposed .XXX sTLD. It expressed some concerns in relation to draft compliance and process terms. The Board directed ICANN staff to negotiate additional contractual provisions requiring development and implementation of policies consistent with ICM Registry’s application. The Board will consider the outcome of these negotiations at some future date.

The board dealt with an additional administrative matter, and continued other matters on its agenda until its next board meeting.


Tanzanica S. King
Communications and Operations Specialist

Long time ICANN veteran and contributor to IDN and other technical advancements, Amadeu April i April, has patiently led the charge to obtain a language centric TLD for a large community of internet users who promote and use the Catalan language.

Congratulations to ICANN and to PuntCat and their 98 Associate member organizations for this step forward.

- PuntCat The Official Site of .CAT.
- Text of ICANN Press Release
- Business Week
- Miami Herald
- Internet News Article (read the quote from Tucows’ Ross Rader - very enlightened)

By Jothan Frakes, Domain Name Industry Consultant

Filed Under


Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Sep 19, 2005 2:55 AM

| The Board noted the written
| communications it had
| received from the
| governments of Spain and
| Andorra not objecting to
| the .CAT application.

That is actually quite noteworthy.  The catalans are an ethnic group - , with their own unique language (not castilian spanish), which is spread across spain and andorra.

And if they are the same as the Basques - my knowledge of ethnology here is a bit hazy - they have [or had till recently] a violent separatist movement of their own, the ETA, which has been just as violently suppressed by the spanish government, right from Francisco Franco’s days.

When people start calling for .kurd they’ll find this an interesting precedent for a TLD that spans different countries.  Iraq, Iran, Turkey [and other countries nearby] may not be very amused when that happens.


Howard C. Berkowitz  –  Sep 25, 2005 5:53 PM

As in so many Internet issues, there are both things to admire in this issue, but also concerns. I congratulate the effort within the ICANN process, and respect those that made it work.
  At the same time, this seems a dangerous precedent, if only for the technical reason of proliferation of TLDs. I’d have much less concern if there had been a TLD for language, with individual languages as second level domains. Indeed, I see a technical advantage that having a (hypothetical) .LANG TLD could signal end user software to select the appropriate character set, and other internationalization conventions.
  I cannot but think of two diplomatic aphorisms, both of which _might_ been from Clemenceau. One described a language as a dialect with an army. The other asked, rhetorically, must every little language have its own country?
  The basic idea of having a language domain TLD, with individual languages at the second level, is a positive response to both aphorisms. I see no reason why recognized dialects, with enough speakers to support SLD creation, cannot coexist. In like manner, it may be stabilizing to have dialect/language subdomains for languages that do not follow national boundaries, such as Kurdish (mentioned by Suresh Ramasubramanian).
  In conclusion, I think the basic idea is a good one, but I have technical reservations about placing a specific language as a TLD.

Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Sep 26, 2005 2:47 AM

A .lang tld is an idea that i would support, probably followed by various languages, like .cat moving to .cat.lang

It also neatly sidesteps the sovereignity issue associated with ccTLDs

And doesnt crowd the namespace for what is going to be a very small number of domains.

No problems that I can see.

Daniel R. Tobias  –  Sep 26, 2005 7:29 PM

This idea (of indicating what language a site is in) is yet another thing that has no need of a TLD; there are established standards in HTTP and HTML to do this without any special domains.  The “lang” attribute in HTML indicates the language of an element, while the “Content-language” header in HTTP does the same for the entire document (and language negotiation exists in HTTP to allow variant language versions to be served based on browser setting).  Internet developers seem compelled to constantly reinvent this wheel.

Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Sep 27, 2005 1:59 AM

As I see it, that is just a sideline for .lang .. all it does is -

1. Aggregate

2. Sidestep sovereignity issues for at least some languages that span borders and/or have other politics associated with them

Kind of like the usage of “chinese taipei” and “regional economies” that you see at several international conferences that feature speakers from both beijing and taipei.

Vittorio Bertola  –  Oct 1, 2005 9:33 PM

Re the first comment: OMG! No, the Basque and the Catalan are different peoples, both living in parts of Spain, but different ones. Yes, the Basque have a strong separatist movement going on, which historically included terrorism. No, the Catalan never used terrorism to become independent - actually, they’ve managed to gain an almost complete self-determination by being well organized, much determined, and economically powerful.

Re the others: no, this does not have much to do with technical reasons such as making it patent in which language a website is. This TLD has a political and cultural value to affirm and promote the existence of the Catalan nation (not the Catalan country). From an engineer’s point of view, this TLD is useless, but from an engineer’s point of view the entire DNS is almost useless (how many time did we listen to engineers claiming that “the DNS is not a directory service”?).

Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Oct 2, 2005 12:24 AM

Vittorio - thanks for the note about Catalans - I got a brief idea of their long history, culture and language (rather more liquid, flowing and poetic than castellano spanish, lots of repeated ll sounds etc, almost like what welsh is to english) from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Mathurin novels (Master and Commander, etc) .. Stephen Mathurin, the surgeon + doctor + natural philosopher in that novel, is half irish and half catalan - and those books are a lot more literate than many I’ve read.

My mistake, confusing the catalans from the basques.

I do acknowledge the social value of a TLD like .cat - indeed, it is the primary reason for such a TLD, and a good one - but Howard’s idea of a .lang TLD with .cat.lang, .hi.lang etc [or whatever ISO language codes for that language.lang] sounds quite interesting, in that context.

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