[Rd] use of UTF-8 \uxxxx escape sequences in function arguments

Thomas Zumbrunn thomas at zumbrunn.name
Wed Jan 18 23:54:43 CET 2012

While preparing a function that contained non-ASCII characters for inclusion 
into a package, I replaced all non-ASCII characters with UTF-8 escape 
sequences (using \uxxxx) in order to make the package portable (and adhere to 
"R CMD check"). What I didn't expect: when one uses UTF-8 escape sequences in 
function arguments, one needs to use UTF-8 escape sequences when calling the 
function, too - even when working in a UTF-8 locale. Is this an intended 

Here's an example to illustrate the (putative) problem:

   ## function that uses non-ASCII characters in arguments
   plain <- function(myarg = c("Basel", "Bern", "Zürich")) {
     myarg <- match.arg(myarg)

   ## function that uses UTF-8 escape sequences in arguments
   escaped <- function(myarg = c("Basel", "Bern", "Z\u00BCrich")) {
     myarg <- match.arg(myarg)

   ## test
   plain("Zürich")  ## works
   plain("Z\u00BCrich")  ## fails
   escaped("Zürich")  ## fails
   escaped("Z\u00BCrich")  ## works

Thank you for your help.
Thomas Zumbrunn

> sessionInfo()                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
R version 2.14.1 (2011-12-22)                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Platform: x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu (64-bit)                                                                                                                                                                                                  
 [1] LC_CTYPE=en_GB.UTF-8       LC_NUMERIC=C               LC_TIME=en_GB.UTF-8                                                                                                                                                               
 [4] LC_COLLATE=en_GB.UTF-8     LC_MONETARY=en_GB.UTF-8    
 [7] LC_PAPER=C                 LC_NAME=C                  LC_ADDRESS=C                                                                                                                                                                      

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