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FAQ 6.22 How can I match strings with multibyte characters?


This is an excerpt from the latest version perlfaq6.pod, which
comes with the standard Perl distribution. These postings aim to
reduce the number of repeated questions as well as allow the community
to review and update the answers. The latest version of the complete
perlfaq is at http://faq.perl.org .

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6.22: How can I match strings with multibyte characters?

    Starting from Perl 5.6 Perl has had some level of multibyte character
    support. Perl 5.8 or later is recommended. Supported multibyte character
    repertoires include Unicode, and legacy encodings through the Encode
    module. See perluniintro, perlunicode, and Encode.

    If you are stuck with older Perls, you can do Unicode with the
    "Unicode::String" module, and character conversions using the
    "Unicode::Map8" and "Unicode::Map" modules. If you are using Japanese
    encodings, you might try using the jperl 5.005_03.

    Finally, the following set of approaches was offered by Jeffrey Friedl,
    whose article in issue #5 of The Perl Journal talks about this very
    matter.

    Let's suppose you have some weird Martian encoding where pairs of ASCII
    uppercase letters encode single Martian letters (i.e. the two bytes "CV"
    make a single Martian letter, as do the two bytes "SG", "VS", "XX",
    etc.). Other bytes represent single characters, just like ASCII.

    So, the string of Martian "I am CVSGXX!" uses 12 bytes to encode the
    nine characters 'I', ' ', 'a', 'm', ' ', 'CV', 'SG', 'XX', '!'.

    Now, say you want to search for the single character "/GX/". Perl
    doesn't know about Martian, so it'll find the two bytes "GX" in the "I
    am CVSGXX!" string, even though that character isn't there: it just
    looks like it is because "SG" is next to "XX", but there's no real "GX".
    This is a big problem.

    Here are a few ways, all painful, to deal with it:

            # Make sure adjacent "martian" bytes are no longer adjacent.
            $martian =~ s/([A-Z][A-Z])/ $1 /g;

            print "found GX!\n" if $martian =~ /GX/;

    Or like this:

            @chars = $martian =~ m/([A-Z][A-Z]|[^A-Z])/g;
            # above is conceptually similar to:     @chars = $text =~ m/(.)/g;
            #
            foreach $char (@chars) {
            print "found GX!\n", last if $char eq 'GX';
            }

    Or like this:

            while ($martian =~ m/\G([A-Z][A-Z]|.)/gs) {  # \G probably unneeded
                    print "found GX!\n", last if $1 eq 'GX';
                    }

    Here's another, slightly less painful, way to do it from Benjamin
    Goldberg, who uses a zero-width negative look-behind assertion.

            print "found GX!\n" if  $martian =~ m/
                    (?<![A-Z])
                    (?:[A-Z][A-Z])*?
                    GX
                    /x;

    This succeeds if the "martian" character GX is in the string, and fails
    otherwise. If you don't like using (?<!), a zero-width negative
    look-behind assertion, you can replace (?<![A-Z]) with (?:^|[^A-Z]).

    It does have the drawback of putting the wrong thing in $-[0] and $+[0],
    but this usually can be worked around.

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