regex – Matching Unicode letter characters in PCRE/PHP-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I’m trying to write a reasonably permissive validator for names in PHP, and my first attempt consists of the following pattern:

// unicode letters, apostrophe, hyphen, space
$namePattern = "/^([\\p{L}'\\- ])+$/";

This is eventually passed to a call to preg_match(). As far as I can tell, this works with your vanilla ASCII alphabet, but seems to trip up on spicier characters like Ă or 张.

Is there something wrong with the pattern itself? Perhaps I’m expecting \p{L} to do more work than I think it does?

Or does it have something to do with the way input is being passed in? I’m not sure if it’s relevant, but I did make sure to specify a UTF8 encoding on the form page.

How to solve:

I think the problem is much simpler than that: You forgot to specify the u modifier. The Unicode character properties are only available in UTF-8 mode.

Your regex should be:

// unicode letters, apostrophe, hyphen, space
$namePattern = '/^[-\' \p{L}]+$/u';

Answer:

If you want to replace Unicode old pattern with new pattern you should write:

$text = preg_replace('/\bold pattern\b/u', 'new pattern', $text);

So the key here is u modifier

Note : Your server php version shoud be at least PHP 4.3.5

as mentioned here php.net | Pattern Modifiers

u (PCRE_UTF8)
This modifier turns on additional functionality of PCRE that is incompatible with Perl. Pattern strings are treated as UTF-8. This
modifier is available from PHP 4.1.0 or greater on Unix and from PHP
4.2.3 on win32. UTF-8 validity of the pattern is checked since PHP 4.3.5.

Thanks AgreeOrNot who give me that key here preg_replace match whole word in arabic

I tried it and it worked in localhost but when I try it in remote server it didn’t work, then I found that php.net start use u modifier in PHP 4.3.5. , I upgrade php version and it works

Its important to know that this method is very helpful for Arabic users (عربي) because – as I believe – unicode is the best encode for arabic language, and replacement will not work if you don’t use the u modifier, see next example it should work with you

$text = preg_replace('/\bمرحبا بك\b/u', 'NEW', $text);

Answer:

First of all, your life would be a lot easier if you’d use single apostrophes instead of double quotes when writing these — you need only one backslash. Second, combining marks \pM should also be included. If you find a character not matched please find out its Unicode code point and then you can use http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/ to figure out where it is. I found http://hsivonen.iki.fi/php-utf8/ an invaluable tool when doing debugging with UTF-8 properties (don’t forget to convert to hex before trying to look up: array_map('dechex', utf8ToUnicode($text))).

For example, Ă turns out to be http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/0102/index.htm and to be in Lu and so L should match it and it does match for me. The other character is http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/5f20/index.htm and is also isLetter and indeed matches for me. Do you have the Unicode character tables compiled in?

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