Extracting "true" words

MRAB python at mrabarnett.plus.com
Sat Apr 2 01:15:22 CEST 2011

On 01/04/2011 21:55, candide 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?). But this feature
> doesn't permit to extract true words; by "true" I mean word composed
> only of _alphabetic_ letters (not digit nor underscore).
The 'w' refers to a 'word' character, although in regex it refers to
letters, digits and the underscore character '_' due to its use in
computer languages (basically, the characters of an identifier or name).
> 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.
Using the re module, you would have to create a character class out of
all the possible letters, something like this:

     letter_class = u"[" + u"".join(unichr(c) for c in range(0x10000) if 
unichr(c).isalpha()) + u"]"

Alternatively, you could try the new regex implementation here:


which adds support for Unicode properties, and do something like this:

     words = regex.findall(ur"\p{Letter}+", unicode_text)

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