The basic elements of some written natural languages, such as Chinese,
cannot be represented uniquely with single C
.Vt char Ns s .
The C standard supports two different ways of dealing with
extended natural language encodings:
wide characters and
Wide characters are an internal representation
which allows each basic element to map
to a single object of type
.Vt wchar_t .
Multibyte characters are used for input and output
and code each basic element as a sequence of C
.Vt char Ns s .
Individual basic elements may map into one or more
bytes in a multibyte character.
The current locale
governs the interpretation of wide and multibyte characters.
The locale category
specifically controls this interpretation.
type is wide enough to hold the largest value
in the wide character representations for all locales.
Multibyte strings may contain
indicators to switch to and from
particular modes within the given representation.
If explicit bytes are used to signal shifting,
these are not recognized as separate characters
but are lumped with a neighboring character.
There is always a distinguished
Some functions (e.g.,
maintain static shift state internally, whereas
others store it in an
object passed by the caller.
Shift states are undefined after a call to
For convenience in processing,
the wide character with value 0
(the null wide character)
is recognized as the wide character string terminator,
and the character with value 0
(the null byte)
is recognized as the multibyte character string terminator.
Null bytes are not permitted within multibyte characters.
The C library provides the following functions for dealing with
| Function Description
mblen 3 get number of bytes in a character
mbrlen 3 get number of bytes in a character (restartable)
mbrtowc 3 convert a character to a wide-character code (restartable)
mbsrtowcs 3 convert a character string to a wide-character string (restartable)
mbstowcs 3 convert a character string to a wide-character string
mbtowc 3 convert a character to a wide-character code
wcrtomb 3 convert a wide-character code to a character (restartable)
wcstombs 3 convert a wide-character string to a character string
wcsrtombs 3 convert a wide-character string to a character string (restartable)
wctomb 3 convert a wide-character code to a character