It looks to me like the Ruby example is a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. Matz, being a smart Japanese programmer and therefore much more keenly aware of Unicode's faults and failings than most people, is therefore reluctant to regard it and use it as the be all and end all of string handling, a la Java or C#. If you google a few of his comp.lang.ruby postings on the subject, it appears he has big ideas, maybe even a prototype, of some kind of better-than-unicode ultimate international text handling. But it Isn't Ready Yet (will it ever be?) and meanwhile Ruby struggles along with some kind of half-working implementation of utf8.