how to detect the encoding used for a specific text data ?

Jussi Piitulainen jpiitula at ling.helsinki.fi
Thu Dec 20 13:48:36 CET 2012


iMath writes:

>  how to detect the encoding used for a specific text data ?

The practical thing to do is to try an encoding and see whether you
find the expected frequent letters of the relevant languages in the
decoded text, or the most frequent words. This is likely to help you
decide between some of the most common encodings. Some decoding
attempts may even raise an exception, which should be a clue.

Strictly speaking, it cannot be done with complete certainty. There
are lots of Finnish texts that are identical whether you think they
are in Latin-1 or Latin-9. A further text from the same source might
still reveal the difference, so the distinction matters.

Short Finnish texts might also be identical whether you think they are
in Latin-1 or UTF-8, but the situation is different: a couple of
frequent letters turn into nonsense in the wrong encoding. It's easy
to tell at a glance.

Sometimes texts declare their encoding. That should be a clue, but in
practice the declaration may be false. Sometimes there is a stray
character that violates the declared or assumed encoding, or a part of
the text is in one encoding and another part in another. Bad source.
You decide how important it is to deal with the mess. (This only
happens in the real world.)

Good luck.



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