Google has announced a major change to Gmail. It will now be able to recognize email addresses that include non Latin alphabet characters in them. Users will be able to both send and receive messages from such addresses.
Since the internet and email originated in the U.S, the Latin alphabet became the standard for both. But half of the people in the world have a native language that does not use the Latin alphabet, such as Russian, Chinese and Hebrew.
Also, many languages such as French and Spanish utilize many types of accent marks above letters. Now people who use such marks will be able to include them in their e mail addresses.
Google says that the change comes after the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which sets the standards for the Internet, began a program to expand the characters that can be used in web addresses and e mails back in 2012.
The company said that it recognizes the importance of people around the world being able to personalize their e mail addresses with characters from their native languages.
In a posting Google said that this is a big hill to climb but that someone has to take the first step. “Today we’re ready to be that someone. Starting now, Gmail (and shortly, Calendar) will recognize addresses that contain accented or non-Latin characters. This means Gmail users can send emails to, and receive emails from, people who have these characters in their email addresses. Of course, this is just a first step and there’s still a ways to go. In the future, we want to make it possible for you to use them to create Gmail accounts.”
The announcement comes one month after Gmail added 13 new languages, for a total of 71 covering 94% of all of the world’s spoken languages. But these languages are only used for the Gmail interface and not e mail addresses.