Fix Python – UnicodeDecodeError: ‘ascii’ codec can’t decode byte 0xe2 in position 13: ordinal not in range(128)


Asked By – user2602812

I’m using NLTK to perform kmeans clustering on my text file in which each line is considered as a document. So for example, my text file is something like this:

belong finger death punch <br>
hasty <br>
mike hasty walls jericho <br>
jägermeister rules <br>
rules bands follow performing jägermeister stage <br>

Now the demo code I’m trying to run is this:

import sys

import numpy
from nltk.cluster import KMeansClusterer, GAAClusterer, euclidean_distance
import nltk.corpus
from nltk import decorators
import nltk.stem

stemmer_func = nltk.stem.EnglishStemmer().stem
stopwords = set(nltk.corpus.stopwords.words('english'))

def normalize_word(word):
    return stemmer_func(word.lower())

def get_words(titles):
    words = set()
    for title in job_titles:
        for word in title.split():
    return list(words)

def vectorspaced(title):
    title_components = [normalize_word(word) for word in title.split()]
    return numpy.array([
        word in title_components and not word in stopwords
        for word in words], numpy.short)

if __name__ == '__main__':

    filename = 'example.txt'
    if len(sys.argv) == 2:
        filename = sys.argv[1]

    with open(filename) as title_file:

        job_titles = [line.strip() for line in title_file.readlines()]

        words = get_words(job_titles)

        # cluster = KMeansClusterer(5, euclidean_distance)
        cluster = GAAClusterer(5)
        cluster.cluster([vectorspaced(title) for title in job_titles if title])

        # NOTE: This is inefficient, cluster.classify should really just be
        # called when you are classifying previously unseen examples!
        classified_examples = [
                cluster.classify(vectorspaced(title)) for title in job_titles

        for cluster_id, title in sorted(zip(classified_examples, job_titles)):
            print cluster_id, title

(which can also be found here)

The error I receive is this:

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 40, in
words = get_words(job_titles)
File "", line 20, in get_words
File "", line 1, in
File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/nltk/", line 183, in memoize
result = func(*args)
File "", line 14, in normalize_word
return stemmer_func(word.lower())
File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/nltk/stem/", line 694, in stem
word = (word.replace(u"\u2019", u"\x27")
UnicodeDecodeError: 'ascii' codec can't decode byte 0xe2 in position 13: ordinal not in range(128)

What is happening here?

Now we will see solution for issue: UnicodeDecodeError: ‘ascii’ codec can’t decode byte 0xe2 in position 13: ordinal not in range(128)


The file is being read as a bunch of strs, but it should be unicodes. Python tries to implicitly convert, but fails. Change:

job_titles = [line.strip() for line in title_file.readlines()]

to explicitly decode the strs to unicode (here assuming UTF-8):

job_titles = [line.decode('utf-8').strip() for line in title_file.readlines()]

It could also be solved by importing the codecs module and using rather than the built-in open.

This question is answered By – icktoofay

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