Arrows in threaded email in Mutt

It has been bugging me for a while that on my laptop I couldn’t see arrows in Mutt for threaded email, but instead saw **> type garbage. I access email in a bit of a convoluted way—I run rxvt-unicode, ssh into my server, attach to the screen session on that server, and switch to window 5 where I’ve logged in to the mail server. Given that three different computers were possibly contributing to the problem, I just lived with it. But after fighting with irritating line skips yesterday evening from the combination of threaded emails plus a message from someone with an accent in her name, this morning I noticed that I had no such problem on my workstation and that the arrows and accents were working just fine. So, I knew the problem was with my laptop settings.

It turns out that Slackware’s default locale is en_US. But then, further down in the file /etc/profile.d/lang.sh, there is the option to set the locale to
export LANG=en_US.UTF-8

I did that, and presto change-o, arrows and accented characters and all that appear in mutt.

It actually took longer to write this post that it did to solve the problem.

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