ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG21 P2201R0
Author: Jens Maurer
Target audience: SG16, CWG

P2201R0: Mixed string literal concatenation


String concatenation involving string-literals with encoding-prefixes mixing L"", u8"", u"", and U"" is currently conditionally-supported with implementation-defined behavior (5.13.5 [lex.string] paragraph 11).

None of icc, gcc, clang, MSVC supports such mixed concatenations; all issue an error: Test code:

void f() {

  { auto a = L"" u""; }
  { auto a = L"" u8""; }
  { auto a = L"" U""; }

  { auto a = u8"" L""; }
  { auto a = u8"" u""; }
  { auto a = u8"" U""; }

  { auto a = u"" L""; }
  { auto a = u"" u8""; }
  { auto a = u"" U""; }

  { auto a = U"" L""; }
  { auto a = U"" u""; }
  { auto a = U"" u8""; }
SDCC, the Small Device C Compiler, does support such mixed concatenations, apparently taking the first encoding-prefix. The sentiment was expressed that the feature is not actually used much, if at all: WG14 e-mail

No meaningful use-case for such mixed concatenations is known.

This paper makes such mixed concatenations ill-formed.


The history was kindly provided by Alisdair Meredith, although all errors should be blamed on the author.

Concatenating narrow and wide string literals was made defined behavior for C++11 by Clark Nelson’s paper synchronizing with the C99 preprocessor: N1653.

The conditionally supported implementation-defined behavior for concatenating unicode and wide string literals was a feature of the original proposal for unicode characer types: N2249.

The final rule to make u8 literals ill-formed when attempting to concatenate with a wide string literal was in the original paper proposing u8 literals: N2442

Wording changes

Change in 5.13.5 [lex.string] paragraph 11:
In translation phase 6 (5.2 [lex.phases]), adjacent string-literals are concatenated. If both string-literals have the same encoding-prefix, the resulting concatenated string-literal has that encoding-prefix. If one string-literal has no encoding-prefix, it is treated as a string-literal of the same encoding-prefix as the other operand. If a UTF-8 string literal token is adjacent to a wide string literal token, the program is ill-formed. Any other concatenations are conditionally-supported with implementation-defined behavior ill-formed. [Note: This concatenation is an interpretation, not a conversion. Because the interpretation happens in translation phase 6 (after each character from a string-literal has been translated into a value from the appropriate character set), a string-literal’s initial rawness has no effect on the interpretation or well-formedness of the concatenation. — end note] Table 11 has some examples of valid concatenations.

(Table 11)

Characters in concatenated strings are kept distinct. [Example:

  "\xA" "B"
contains the two characters ’\xA’ and ’B’ after concatenation (and not the single hexadecimal character ’\xAB’). — end example]