Well it becomes a mess at times.
Some people started the install with utf8 because you get a prompt somewhere on a new install as well as the default setting in MYSQL was also UTF8
Some have the tables as utf8 but never changed the language file to utf8.
And probably most have ISO-8859-1 in both the language file and the tables.
I tried to convert one once and it worked fine.
Another site was toast so I set it back to what it had.
SD stated at one time when we get to that point there would need to be a import not a regular upgrade to make multiple table changes as well as convert everything to UTF8.
for a reference on converting. Read the last line that would be changing the language file.