Thanks for the answer.
So basically I am safe as long as I use these two lines, and "use utf8;" on top of my script every time. This has been really the most confusing thing so far, the otherwise excellent "Learning Perl" doesn't mention these problems at all, and some of the examples don't work correctly with utf-8 characters. which is fine for English speaking beginners, but people working on other languages have to deal with this issue right from the start. Could have saved a lot of time if it mentioned simply "for non-English languages or utf-8 add this to your script". Well, at least now I know and can go back to learn the "proper" stuff... Thanks again,