Single-letter names (was: Re: Update of RFC 2606 based on therecent ICANN changes?)

michael.dillon at michael.dillon at
Mon Jul 7 18:25:28 CEST 2008

> Alphabetic scripts such as Latin mostly represent sounds used 
> to make up words. While one can certainly find some 
> legitimate single-character words (such as the article "a" or 
> the personal pronoun "i") 

And lest someone might think that this curiosity of single
character words only applies to vowel sounds, in Russian,
the Cyrillic letter equivalents of v, k and s, are also
single letter words. 

> On the other hand, characters in ideographic scripts such as 
> Han are not mere sounds or glyphs; they represent one or more 
> concepts.

Some people might dispute that and say that they represent
syllables. Since the various Chinese dialects tend to have
monosyllabic words, almost all possible syllables also represent
a word or concept. However, many concepts in modern Chinese
dialects require multiple syllables to express them and
therefore multiple characters to write them. So there isn't
really a one to one mapping of word, syllable, concept as
many people suppose.

It would be more defensible to disallow single codepoint labels
where the code point represents a single consonant sound or a single
vowel sound. That still leaves a grey area of syllabic symbol systems
such as Hiragana, Inuit syllabics, etc. However, the number of people
affected by a rule on syllabics is small enough that one could
poll representatives of these language communities to see if a rule
prohibiting single-syllable TLDs would cause hardship.

Note that the current system allows both single syllable TLDs such
as .to and single ideograph TLDs such as .sing when ASCII characters
are used. Or if you want to include tones, then .sing4 would be a single
ideographic codepoint. I think that it would be a good thing to update 
RFC 2606 to collect the various arguments and reasoning so that the
experts have some guidance to work from. If we can't deal with all the 
corner cases in an updated RFC, then at least ICANN experts have a point

of reference from which to depart, or not.

--Michael Dillon

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