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Replace non-ASCII characters with a single space

Posted by: admin November 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

I need to replace all non-ASCII (\x00-\x7F) characters with a space. I’m surprised that this is not dead-easy in Python, unless I’m missing something. The following function simply removes all non-ASCII characters:

def remove_non_ascii_1(text):

    return ''.join(i for i in text if ord(i)<128)

And this one replaces non-ASCII characters with the amount of spaces as per the amount of bytes in the character code point (i.e. the character is replaced with 3 spaces):

def remove_non_ascii_2(text):

    return re.sub(r'[^\x00-\x7F]',' ', text)

How can I replace all non-ASCII characters with a single space?

Of the myriad of similar SO questions, none address character replacement as opposed to stripping, and additionally address all non-ascii characters not a specific character.

Answers:

Your ''.join() expression is filtering, removing anything non-ASCII; you could use a conditional expression instead:

return ''.join([i if ord(i) < 128 else ' ' for i in text])

This handles characters one by one and would still use one space per character replaced.

Your regular expression should just replace consecutive non-ASCII characters with a space:

re.sub(r'[^\x00-\x7F]+',' ', text)

Note the + there.

Questions:
Answers:

For you the get the most alike representation of your original string I recommend:

from unidecode import unidecode
def remove_non_ascii(text):
    return unidecode(unicode(text, encoding = "utf-8"))

Then you can use it in a string:

remove_non_ascii("Ceñía")
Cenia

Questions:
Answers:

For character processing, use Unicode strings:

PythonWin 3.3.0 (v3.3.0:bd8afb90ebf2, Sep 29 2012, 10:57:17) [MSC v.1600 64 bit (AMD64)] on win32.
>>> s='ABC马克def'
>>> import re
>>> re.sub(r'[^\x00-\x7f]',r' ',s)   # Each char is a Unicode codepoint.
'ABC  def'
>>> b = s.encode('utf8')
>>> re.sub(rb'[^\x00-\x7f]',rb' ',b) # Each char is a 3-byte UTF-8 sequence.
b'ABC      def'

But note you will still have a problem if your string contains decomposed Unicode characters (separate character and combining accent marks, for example):

>>> s = 'mañana'
>>> len(s)
6
>>> import unicodedata as ud
>>> n=ud.normalize('NFD',s)
>>> n
'mañana'
>>> len(n)
7
>>> re.sub(r'[^\x00-\x7f]',r' ',s) # single codepoint
'ma ana'
>>> re.sub(r'[^\x00-\x7f]',r' ',n) # only combining mark replaced
'man ana'

Questions:
Answers:

What about this one?

def replace_trash(unicode_string):
     for i in range(0, len(unicode_string)):
         try:
             unicode_string[i].encode("ascii")
         except:
              #means it's non-ASCII
              unicode_string=unicode_string[i].replace(" ") #replacing it with a single space
     return unicode_string

Questions:
Answers:

If the replacement character can be ‘?’ instead of a space, then I’d suggest result = text.encode('ascii', 'replace').decode():

"""Test the performance of different non-ASCII replacement methods."""


import re
from timeit import timeit


# 10_000 is typical in the project that I'm working on and most of the text
# is going to be non-ASCII.
text = 'Æ' * 10_000


print(timeit(
    """
result = ''.join([c if ord(c) < 128 else '?' for c in text])
    """,
    number=1000,
    globals=globals(),
))

print(timeit(
    """
result = text.encode('ascii', 'replace').decode()
    """,
    number=1000,
    globals=globals(),
))

Results:

0.7208260721400134
0.009975979187503592