While my Russian Anki deck contains around 27,000 cards, I’m always making more. (There are a lot words in the Russian language!) Over the years, I’ve become more and more efficient with card production but one of the missing pieces was finding a code-readable source of word definitions. There’s no shortage of dictionary sites, but scraping data from any site is complicated by the ways in which front-end developers spread the semantic content across multiple HTML tags arranged in deep and cryptic hierarchies. Yes, we can cut-and-paste, but my quest is about nearly completely automating quality card production. This is a quick post of a method for scraping word definitions from Wiktionary.
The project relies on the
wiktionaryparser module available for Python. Although it’s not feature complete, it’s pretty good. With a little extra processing, it can do a lot of the heavy lifting of extracting word definitions.
The code is largely self-explanatory; but I would just point out than line 13 is there to exclude any line that contains residual Cyrillic characters. Out-of-the-box, the
WiktionaryParser module seems to capture the headword, IPA pronunciation, etc. so we need a way of excluding all of that before we compress the definition lines into a single string of comma-delimited text.