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.CAT TLD Request

  • To: <stld-rfp-cat@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: .CAT TLD Request
  • From: "Helena Buffery" <H.B.F.BUFFERY@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 12:23:41 +0100
  • Importance: high
  • Priority: Urgent
  • Thread-index: AcQsShgWXUKqzEbPSXqcW0yu+3M5xw==
  • Thread-topic: .CAT TLD Request

Dear sir/madam,
I hope you will be kind enough to read the attached letter. I believe there are 
ample reasons for measured consideration of the Puntcat organisation's TLD 
request. Unfortunately, I have also noted that some contributions to the debate 
have not been helpful. I am writing to help to clarify some of the issue.
All the very best,
Dr Helena Buffery
University of Birmingham

I write to you on behalf of the Anglo-Catalan Society 
[http://www.shef.ac.uk/hispanic/acspags], which brings together mainly academic 
experts on all aspects of Catalan society and culture who are based in the 
United Kingdom and Ireland. (I myself am currently working on a Historical 
Dictionary of the Catalan Peoples for the Scarecrow Press series of Historical 
Dictionaries). Most of our members know the language and culture well, and I am 
confident that our colleagues in the North American Catalan Society 
[http://cr.middlebury.edu/catalan/] would endorse most if not all of what I 
have to say. 
The Catalan language has for centuries been spoken in the same territories in 
Europe. Right now these territories form part of four different states (Andorra 
.ad, France .fr, Italy .it, and Spain .es). Thus I understand the .cat TLD 
request is not based on political borders, but rather on linguistic and 
cultural grounds.
I gather from the promoters' website [http://www.puntcat.org] that it has the 
support of over 53,000 people, and 2,000 associations, from throughout the 
areas where more than seven million people speak the language, and beyond.
Nor are we dealing with a low status language:
· It has full official recognition in Andorra, and has official status 
alongside Spanish in most part of the Spanish-speaking territories in Spain.
· On the Internet, the presence of Catalan is very considerable. The voluntary 
organisation Softcatala, (http://www.softcatala.org/noticies/2402200472.htm) 
has recently noted that in the Wikipaedia project, only 11 languages have more 
pages than the Catalan version, which surpasses languages such as Chinese, 
Hebrew, Romanian, Slovene, Finnish, Croatian, Norwegian and Portuguese. Note 
that all these languages, as well as those above Catalan, have a clearly 
defined "home state", and therefore their own clear TLD. Furthermore, the Open 
Directory project (http://www.dmoz.org/) has Catalan in 11th position, ahead of 
Russian, Norwegian, Czech, Turkish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese and Finnish. 
It has ten times more pages than any "minority language". Yet again the 
languages mentioned, and all ten placed above Catalan, have a clearly defined 
State or, in some cases (Spanish or English, e.g.), set of States. 
· Moreover, the Alexa ranking (see 
http://www.softcatala.org/articles/article39.htm) includes a number of 
institutions whose main language is Catalan. The leading ones are «La Caixa» 
savings bank [http://www.lacaixa.es/], the Generalitat de Catalunya (government 
of Catalonia) [http://www.gencat.net/], Generalitat Valenciana (government of 
Valencia) [http://www.gva.es/], Barcelona City Council [http://www.bcn.es/], 
the Educational Telematic Service, [http://www.edu365.com/], the University of 
Barcelona [http://www.ub.es/], the Open University of Catalonia 
[http://www.uoc.edu/], two newspapers - El Periódico 
[http://www.elperiodico.es/] and the digital paper, VilaWeb 
[http://www.vilaweb.com/] - and the Barcelona Football Club 
[http://www.fcbarcelona. es/].
· The Catalan-speaking community is firmly committed to the Internet: indeed, 
the Catalan Chapter of the Internet Society (http://www.isoc-cat.org/) was, I 
am told, one of the first to be founded.
As should now be clear, the sponsored TLD community is extremely clearly 
defined: it speaks and uses the Catalan language, wherever it is geographically 
or politically sited. 
I feel that ICANN would be making a big step forward were it to acknowledge 
that culture and language can also be the basis for a top level domain, when 
necessary, alongside the existing political and institutional ones. There are 
few languages (and certainly none on the scale of Catalan!) which do not have 
an independent homeland from which to be projected, and which are spoken in 
several countries (Kurdish springs to mind).
Several of those who have expressed their opinions in this forum, have quite 
simply failed to see the significance of this non-politically based TLD. 
To appeal to all Catalan-speakers, domains ending in .es, .fr, .it or .ad 
certainly fall short, for each of these leaves out nationals of other 
countries, a fact that is ignored by several of the more outspoken and critical 
contributors to this forum. The same can be said for the considerable number of 
organisations set up by the Catalan-speaking diaspora (Casals Catalans, 
lectorats, and so on) across the globe - in Australia, throughout Europe (e.g. 
http://casal.catala.free.fr/, http://www.angelfire.com/ct/cclux/, etc.) to 
South America (http://www.galeon.com/ccatala/, http://www.casaldeyucatan.org/, 
etc.) Canada (e.g. http://www.ashlu.com/casal/) and the US 
(http://www.casalcalifornia.org/, http://www.casalcatala.org/ etc.) - and which 
are also present on the Internet.
I therefore feel that it would be a step forward were .cat to be adopted as a 
new TLD, for it would highlight that TLDs do not have to refer, in all cases, 
to geographically-defined polities or to organisations (educational, 
commercial, official, or whatever). And provided a domain is to be (at least 
mainly) in Catalan, I cannot see how what definition of Catalan culture could 
lead the name-server managers to turn a request away! Within the self-defined 
Catalan-speaking community, it hardly seems likely that any polemic can arise 
in this regard.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Helena Buffery
Lecturer in Hispanic Studies 
University of Birmingham

Secretary of the Anglo-Catalan Society

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