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Marcel wrote (under a different subject):

 > - Hyphenation tables should really be Unicode (so possibly UTF8
 >   encoded).  They are logically neither input nor output encoding
 >   related, and should work regardless whether either refers to a
 >   castrated font set.

true, but only logically. Within TeX (and that is the major basis right now)
it is tied to the font encoding that is the internal storage of the table has
to be in the font encoding it is targetting.

this does not mean that the source input can't be in a more suitable encoding
and my suggestion is to use the LaTeX internal character representation here
(and not UTF8) but in some sense either is similarily useful since both
describe in a unique way the set of characters and both can be converted from
one into the other.

At this stage (at least) the advantage of the LaTeX's internal character
representation is that it is well supported within the kernel and has a far
simpler parsing mechanism. It also has the advantage of being 7bit or rather
even visible ascii only (which is *still* a big advantage)

but i will comment on that in more detail in a different message

frank