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Keywords:

  • multilingual Internet;
  • Unicode;
  • globalization;
  • Hebrew;
  • infrastructure

Abstract

This paper examines the technologies that enable the representation of Hebrew on websites. Hebrew is written from right to left and in non-Latin characters, issues shared by a number of languages which seem to be converging on a shared solution—Unicode. Regarding the case of Hebrew, I show how competing solutions have given way to one dominant technology. I link processes in the Israeli context with broader questions about the ‘multilingual Internet,’ asking whether the commonly accepted solution for representing non-Latin texts on computer screens is an instance of cultural imperialism and convergence around a western artifact. It is argued that while minority languages are given an online voice by Unicode, the context is still one of western power.