Removing Diacritics from CSV Files

Navigating Data Challenges and Embracing Solutions in the World of Diacritics


3 min read

Removing Diacritics from CSV Files

Hello there, fellow coding enthusiasts! Today, I want to share a personal experience from my journey with data handling and how we tackled a unique challenge at our organization. If you’ve ever had to work with diverse datasets, you know that sometimes you encounter unexpected roadblocks. In our case, it was the need to remove diacritics from a CSV file containing research data for our organization.

The Context

Our organization relies heavily on data-driven decision-making. We collect and analyze data from various sources to shape our strategies and drive innovation. Recently, we acquired a new dataset that promised to provide valuable insights. However, there was a catch — the data contained diacritics, those tiny symbols like accents and tildes that can significantly complicate data processing.

Diacritics can cause discrepancies when comparing or searching data, so it was crucial to find a solution to remove them while preserving the integrity of our information.

The challenge

To give you a clearer picture, imagine a dataset filled with names, places, and other textual information. Diacritics, which are common in many languages, make these characters look a bit different from their standard counterparts. For instance, “José” would be represented as “Jose” without the diacritic.

The challenge was to find a way to automate the removal of diacritics from the entire CSV file, as manually doing this for thousands of records was not feasible. We needed a solution that would maintain data accuracy and consistency.

The Solution

After some research and experimentation, I wrote a Python script that came to rescue. The script utilized the unicodedata library to normalize the text, separating the base characters from their diacritical marks. By filtering out the diacritical marks, we could obtain clean, diacritic-free text.

Here’s a simplified version of the Python script I wrote:

import csv
import unicodedata

def remove_diacritics(string):
    return ''.join(c for c in unicodedata.normalize('NFD', string) if unicodedata.category(c) != 'Mn')

with open('input.csv', 'r', encoding='utf-8') as input_file, open('output.csv', 'w', encoding='utf-8', newline='') as output_file:
    reader = csv.reader(input_file)
    writer = csv.writer(output_file)

    for row in reader:
        new_row = [remove_diacritics(cell) for cell in row]

print("Diacritics removed from input.csv and saved to output.csv.")

This script efficiently processed our data, removing diacritics from all relevant fields while leaving everything else untouched. It saved me hours of manual work and ensured data consistency and accuracy.

The Takeaway

Working with data isn’t always straightforward, and unexpected challenges can arise. In our case, removing diacritics was one such challenge that we successfully tackled with the right tool. It’s a testament to the power of scripting and automation in the world of data.

So, if you ever find yourself facing a similar issue, remember that there are solutions out there, and a bit of coding magic can make your data processing tasks much more manageable. Embrace the journey of learning and problem-solving, and you’ll discover that even the trickiest data challenges can be overcome.

Happy data wrangling!

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