Whether your email address is firstname.lastname@ or something more expressive like corgicrazy@, an email address says something about who you are. But from the start, email addresses have always required you to use non-accented Latin characters when signing up. Less than half of the world’s population has a mother tongue that uses the Latin alphabet. And even fewer people use only the letters A-Z. So if your name (or that of your favorite pet) contains accented characters (like “José Ramón”) or is written in another script like Chinese or Devanagari, your email address options are limited.
But all that could change. In 2012, an organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) created a new email standard that supports addresses with non-Latin and accented Latin characters (e.g. 武＠メール.グーグル). In order for this standard to become a reality, every email provider and every website that asks you for your email address must adopt it. That’s obviously a tough hill to climb. The technology is there, but 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.
Last month, google announced the addition of 13 new languages in Gmail. Language should never be a barrier when it comes to connecting with others and with this step forward, truly global email is now even closer to becoming a reality.