> Why does it say there are three varieties when a 16-bit datum can only be
> serialised in two orders?
The simplest way to think about it is to remember that a MIME charset is meant
to provide *minimal* information for the receiver to convert bytes into
characters. If the receiver gets FF FE 01 02, then it *must* be interpreted
as follows depending on the charset:
UTF-16BE: U+FFFE U+0102
UTF-16LE: U+FEFF U+0201
For any given byte sequence, at most two of the charsets produce a meaningful
sequence of characters, since U+FFFE is not a character, but that doesn't
affect charset decoding.
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