Followup.
Took a close look at the file I'd created via a shell script - by default, of course, it doesn't matter that the encoding was UTF-16, the file itself was in ASCII. I resolved the problem by filtering the existing file thru' ICONV to create a 'proper' UTF-16 file.

One consideration is that most parsers are a bit forgiving of files that are passed in as UTF-8 claiming to be UTF-16.