( Backslash Escapes

Info Catalog ( Match Structures ( Regular Expressions
 21.5.3 Backslash Escapes
 Sometimes you will want a regexp to match characters like `*' or `$'
 exactly.  For example, to check whether a particular string represents
 a menu entry from an Info node, it would be useful to match it against
 a regexp like `^* [^:]*::'.  However, this won't work; because the
 asterisk is a metacharacter, it won't match the `*' at the beginning of
 the string.  In this case, we want to make the first asterisk un-magic.
    You can do this by preceding the metacharacter with a backslash
 character `\'.  (This is also called "quoting" the metacharacter, and
 is known as a "backslash escape".)  When Guile sees a backslash in a
 regular expression, it considers the following glyph to be an ordinary
 character, no matter what special meaning it would ordinarily have.
 Therefore, we can make the above example work by changing the regexp to
 `^\* [^:]*::'.  The `\*' sequence tells the regular expression engine
 to match only a single asterisk in the target string.
    Since the backslash is itself a metacharacter, you may force a
 regexp to match a backslash in the target string by preceding the
 backslash with itself.  For example, to find variable references in a
 TeX program, you might want to find occurrences of the string `\let\'
 followed by any number of alphabetic characters.  The regular expression
 `\\let\\[A-Za-z]*' would do this: the double backslashes in the regexp
 each match a single backslash in the target string.
  -- Scheme Procedure: regexp-quote str
      Quote each special character found in STR with a backslash, and
      return the resulting string.
    *Very important:* Using backslash escapes in Guile source code (as
 in Emacs Lisp or C) can be tricky, because the backslash character has
 special meaning for the Guile reader.  For example, if Guile encounters
 the character sequence `\n' in the middle of a string while processing
 Scheme code, it replaces those characters with a newline character.
 Similarly, the character sequence `\t' is replaced by a horizontal tab.
 Several of these "escape sequences" are processed by the Guile reader
 before your code is executed.  Unrecognized escape sequences are
 ignored: if the characters `\*' appear in a string, they will be
 translated to the single character `*'.
    This translation is obviously undesirable for regular expressions,
 since we want to be able to include backslashes in a string in order to
 escape regexp metacharacters.  Therefore, to make sure that a backslash
 is preserved in a string in your Guile program, you must use _two_
 consecutive backslashes:
      (define Info-menu-entry-pattern (make-regexp "^\\* [^:]*"))
    The string in this example is preprocessed by the Guile reader before
 any code is executed.  The resulting argument to `make-regexp' is the
 string `^\* [^:]*', which is what we really want.
    This also means that in order to write a regular expression that
 matches a single backslash character, the regular expression string in
 the source code must include _four_ backslashes.  Each consecutive pair
 of backslashes gets translated by the Guile reader to a single
 backslash, and the resulting double-backslash is interpreted by the
 regexp engine as matching a single backslash character.  Hence:
      (define tex-variable-pattern (make-regexp "\\\\let\\\\=[A-Za-z]*"))
    The reason for the unwieldiness of this syntax is historical.  Both
 regular expression pattern matchers and Unix string processing systems
 have traditionally used backslashes with the special meanings described
 above.  The POSIX regular expression specification and ANSI C standard
 both require these semantics.  Attempting to abandon either convention
 would cause other kinds of compatibility problems, possibly more severe
 ones.  Therefore, without extending the Scheme reader to support
 strings with different quoting conventions (an ungainly and confusing
 extension when implemented in other languages), we must adhere to this
 cumbersome escape syntax.
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