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Thinking in C++ Vol 2 - Practical Programming
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The software industry is now a healthy, worldwide economic market, with demand for applications that can run in various languages and cultures. As early as the late 1980s, the C Standards Committee added support for non-U.S. formatting conventions with their locale mechanism. A locale is a set of preferences for displaying certain entities such as dates and monetary quantities. In the 1990s, the C Standards Committee approved an addendum to Standard C that specified functions to handle wide characters (denoted by the type wchar_t), which allow support for character sets other than ASCII and its commonly used Western European extensions. Although the size of a wide character is not specified, some platforms implement them as 32-bit quantities, so they can hold the encodings specified by the Unicode Consortium, as well as mappings to multi-byte characters sets defined by Asian standards bodies. C++ has integrated support for both wide characters and locales into the iostreams library.

Thinking in C++ Vol 2 - Practical Programming
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire