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Encoding for NLS

Collating Sequence

Overview to Collating Sequence

The collating sequence is the order in which characters are sorted. For example, when the SORT procedure is executed, the collating sequence determines the sort order (higher, lower, or equal to) of a particular character in relation to other characters.

The default collating sequence is binary collation, which sorts characters according to each character's location in the code page of the session encoding. (The session encoding is the default encoding for a SAS session. The default encoding can be specified by using various SAS language elements.) The sort order corresponds directly to the arrangement of the code points within the code page. The two single-byte character encoding methods that data processing uses most widely are ASCII and EBCDIC. The OpenVMS, UNIX, and Windows operating environments use ASCII encodings; IBM mainframe computers use EBCDIC encodings.

Binary collation is the fastest type of collation because it is the most efficient for the computer. However, locating characters within a binary-collated report might be difficult if you are not familiar with this method. For example, a binary-collated report lists words beginning with uppercase characters separately from words beginning with lowercase characters, and words beginning with accented characters after words beginning with unaccented characters. Therefore, for ASCII-based encodings, the capital letter Z precedes the lowercase letter a. Similarly, for EBCDIC-based encodings, the lowercase letter z precedes the capital letter A.

You can request an alternate collating sequence that overrides the binary collation. To request an alternate collating sequence, specify one of the following sequences:

Results of Different Collating Sequences illustrates the results of using different collating sequences to sort a short list of words:

Results of Different Collating Sequences
Binary Translation Table Encoding Value Linguistic
Aaron aardvark Aaron aardvark
Aztec azimuth Aztec Aaron
Zeus Aaron Zeus azimuth
aardvark Aztec aardvark Aztec
azimuth cote azimuth cote
cote coté cote côte
coté côte coté coté
côte côté côte côté
côté zebra côté zebra
zebra zèbre zebra zèbre
zèbre Zeus zèbre Zeus

The first column shows the results of binary collation on characters that are represented in an ASCII-based encoding. The alphabetization is not consistent because of the separate grouping of words that begin with uppercase and lowercase characters. For example, the word Zeus appears before aardvark because of the code points that are assigned to the characters within the ASCII-based encoding.

The second column shows the results of specifying a translation table that alternates the ordering of lowercase and uppercase characters. If you use the translation table, the word aardvark appears before Zeus. However, the word azimuth appears before Aaron because the translation table assigns a weight value to the lowercase character a that is less than the weight value of the uppercase character A. In addition, accents are sorted from left to right. For example, coté comes before côte.

The third column shows the results of specifying the ASCII-based, double-byte latin1 encoding.

The last column shows the results of linguistic collation for the session locale fr_FR (French_France), which uses a collation algorithm to alphabetize words. The algorithm specifies that words beginning with lowercase characters appear before words beginning with uppercase characters. In addition, this linguistic collation sorts accents from right to left because of the French locale specification.

SAS has adopted the International Components for Unicode (ICU) to implement linguistic collation. The ICU and its implementation of the Unicode Collation Algorithm (UCA) have become a standard. The collating sequence is the default provided by the ICU for the specified locale.

Request Alternate Collating Sequence

To request an alternate collating sequence, use the following SAS language elements:

Note that neither method supports all of the collating sequences. For example, only the SORTSEQ= option in the PROC SORT statement supports linguistic collation. However, both the SORTSEQ= option in the PROC SORT statement and the SORTSEQ= system option support translation table collating sequences.

The BASE (V9) engine and the REMOTE engine for SAS/SHARE support all alternate collating sequences. The V9TAPE sequential engine supports the use of a translation table and an encoding value to sort data, but the V9TAPE engine does not support linguistic collation.

Specifying a Translation Table

A translation table is a SAS catalog entry that transcodes data from one single-byte encoding to another single-byte encoding. A translation table also reorders characters when sorting them. A translation table can be one that SAS provides, such as a standard collating sequence like ASCII, EBCDIC, or DANISH; or it can be a user-defined translation table.

When you specify a translation table for an alternate collating sequence, the characters are reordered by mapping the code point of each character to an integer weight value in the range of 0 to 255. A binary collation is then performed.

For collating purposes, you can create translation tables that order characters so that lowercase and uppercase characters alternate. For example, you can create a translation table to correct the situation in which Z precedes a in an ASCII-based encoding. (However, regardless of the weight assignments in the translation table, it is difficult to achieve a true alphabetic ordering that takes the character case into account.) You can also create a translation table that orders alphabetic characters of a particular language in their expected order.

The TRANTAB procedure creates, edits, and displays translation tables. For example, you can display a translation table to view the character-weight values. The translation tables that are supplied by SAS are stored in the SASHELP.HOST catalog. Any translation table that you create or customize is stored in your SASUSER.PROFILE catalog. Translation tables have an entry type of TRANTAB. See The TRANTAB Procedure for more information about translation tables.

You can specify a translation table with the SORTSEQ= option in the PROC SORT statement or with the SORTSEQ= system option. For example, if your operating environment sorts with the ASCII-based Wlatin1 encoding by default, and you want to sort with a translation table that alternates uppercase and lowercase characters, issue the following statements to specify the SAS translation table FRSOLAT1:

proc sort data=myfiles.test sortseq=FRSOLAT1; 
   by name;

A SAS data set that is sorted with a translation table contains a sort indicator that displays the specified translation table name as the collating sequence in CONTENTS procedure output.

Specifying an Encoding Value

An encoding is a set of characters (letters, logograms, digits, punctuation marks, symbols, and control characters) that have been mapped to hexadecimal values, called code points, that computers use. When you specify an encoding value for an alternate collating sequence, the characters are transcoded from the SAS session encoding to the specified encoding, and then a binary collation is performed. You can specify all encoding values that are supported by the ENCODING= option, including multi-byte encodings. Note that specifying a translation table can transcode data, but translation tables are limited to single-byte encodings.

You can specify an encoding value with the SORTSEQ= option in the PROC SORT statement, but you cannot specify an encoding value in the SORTSEQ= system option. For example, you want to sort a SAS data set and then transport it to a Japanese Windows environment. If your session encoding is ASCII-based and binary collation is in effect, you can issue the following statements to specify the ASCII-based double-byte encoding SHIFT-JIS:

proc sort data=myfiles.test sortseq='shift-jis';
   by name;

Note that SAS checks the encoding value for any translation tables with the same name. If a translation table name exists, SAS uses the translation table.

A SAS data set that is sorted with an encoding value contains a sort indicator that displays the specified encoding value as the collating sequence in CONTENTS procedure output.

Specifying Linguistic Collation

Linguistic collation sorts characters according to rules of language and produces results that are intuitive and culturally acceptable. The results are similar to the collation used in printed materials such as dictionaries, phone books, and book indexes. Linguistic collation is useful for generating reports or other data presentations and for achieving compatibility between systems.

SAS incorporates the International Components for Unicode (ICU), which is an open-source library that provides routines for linguistic collation that are compatible with the Unicode Collation Algorithm (UCA). The UCA is a standard by which Unicode strings can be compared and ordered.

To request linguistic collation, you must use the SORTSEQ= option in the PROC SORT statement because the SORTSEQ= system option does not support linguistic collation. For example, the following statements cause the SORT procedure to collate linguistically, in accordance with the French_France locale:

options locale=fr_FR;

proc sort data=myfiles.test sortseq=linguistic;
   by name;

When linguistic collation is requested, SAS uses the default linguistic collation algorithm that is provided by the ICU for the SAS session locale. This algorithm reflects the language, local conventions such as data formatting, and culture for a geographical region. You can modify the algorithm by specifying options in parentheses following the LINGUISTIC keyword. For example, you can specify a different locale; you can specify the CASE_FIRST= option to collate lowercase characters before uppercase characters, or vice versa; and so on. Generally, it is not necessary to specify options, because the ICU associates defaults with the various languages and locales. For more information about the linguistic options, see the SORTSEQ= option in Collating Sequence Option or the SORTSEQ= option in the PROC SORT statement in Base SAS Procedures Guide.

A SAS data set that is sorted linguistically contains a sort indicator that displays the collating sequence LINGUISTIC in CONTENTS procedure output. Along with the sort indicator, the data set also records a complete description of the linguistic collating sequence in the file's descriptor information, which is also displayed in CONTENTS procedure output.

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