Extracting "true" words

Chris Rebert clp2 at rebertia.com
Fri Apr 1 19:10:06 EDT 2011

On Fri, Apr 1, 2011 at 1:55 PM, candide <candide at free.invalid> wrote:
> Back again with my study of regular expressions ;) There exists a special
> character allowing alphanumeric extraction, the special character \w (BTW,
> what the letter 'w' refers to?).

"Word" presumably/intuitively; hence the non-standard "[:word:]"
POSIX-like character class alias for \w in some environments.

> But this feature doesn't permit to extract
> true words; by "true" I mean word composed only of _alphabetic_ letters (not
> digit nor underscore).

Are you intentionally excluding CJK ideographs (as not "letters"/alphabetic)?
And what of hyphenated terms (e.g. "re-lock")?

> So I was wondering what is the pattern to extract (or to match) _true_ words
> ? Of course, I don't restrict myself to the ascii universe so that the
> pattern [a-zA-Z]+ doesn't meet my needs.

AFAICT, there doesn't appear to be a nice way to do this in Python
using the std lib `re` module, but I'm not a regex guru.
POSIX character classes are unsupported, which rules out "[:alpha:]".
\w can be made Unicode/locale-sensitive, but includes digits and the
underscore, as you've already pointed out.
\p (Unicode property/block testing), which would allow for
"\p{Alphabetic}" or similar, is likewise unsupported.


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