What Is Mojibake?

example image of Mojibake

Mojibake is a word to describe unintelligible gibberish displayed on a screen or printed on a paper when a software fails to handle encodings or fonts in the data stream. This occurs mainly when the software cannot handle multibyte characters, multibyte fonts, proper font selection according to language (locale), and so on. In short, this is a result of internationalization failure.

Mojibake is spelled in Japanese as "文字化け" which literally means "ghost characters" or "disguised characters". Here, a set of ideograms "文字" means "character(s)" and an ideogram "化" means "change(d)", "transform(ed)", "haunt(ed)" or "ghost".

Here shows examples of Mojibake. Most of these examples are taken from Debian GNU/Linux potato (unstable) i386 in November 1999. No recompile were done, though configuration files are modified for some of them and of course LANG variable was properly set.

Note: Debian GNU/Linux potato is already released and is not 'unstable' any more. I added some examples using Debian GNU/Linux woody (unstable) i386 in November 2000.

The aim of these examples are notice developers the necessity of internationalization. Please read Introduction to I18N in the Debian Documentation Project for detail.

Tomohiro KUBOTA <debian at tmail dot plala dot or dot jp>