This page is part of the book SQL-99 Complete, Really, by Peter Gulutzan & Trudy Pelzer. The authors have graciously allowed us to reproduce the contents of the book here. Because the book is about the SQL-99 standard, the contents of this and other pages in the book may not directly apply to MariaDB. Use the navigation bar to navigate the book.

"Now we know our Alphabet all the way from A to Z[ed]"
(Grade 1 Tune)

"Now we know our ABC all the way from A to Z[ee]"
(same, USA variant)

If you remember one of the above jingles, you've probably got a few things to unlearn before you can use SQL character strings properly. Many people think that the alphabet is something from grade 1: that they know it already. If you fall into this category, be patient with us. By the end of this chapter, you'll understand why we feel it's necessary to devote so much space to what appears to be a fairly simple topic.

Before we can begin to address the question "what does SQL do with characters?", we have first have to ask: "what should it do?". That's why this book has two chapters on characters and character strings. The first one, the one you're reading, explains what characters are, what the important character sets are and how to relate or switch ... the universal things. The next chapter gets into what the database solutions are. After you've read this chapter, you'll see why the "solutions" are varied, random and wrong.