In the process of booking up for my other post in this thread, I noticed the 'surrogatepass' handler.
Is there a real use case for the 'surrogatepass' error handler? It seems like a horrible break in the abstraction. IMHO, if there's a need, the application should handle this. Python shouldn't provide it on encoding as the resulting streams are not Unicode conformant, nor on decoding UTF-16, as conversion of surrogate pairs is a requirement of all Unicode versions since about 1995.