Definition - What does Mojibake mean?

Mojibake is a term in IT that describes instances where text is improperly decoded, resulting in nonsense or random symbols. Mojibake happens largely due to the replacement of a set of unrelated symbols in a different code structure.

Mojibake is Japanese for "character transformation."

Techopedia explains Mojibake

Some experts describe mojibake situations where text data has been sent between computers with different default encodings. These and other kinds of changes result in the same underlying bits and bytes being represented in ways that do not make sense to the recipient.

Experts point out that mojibake rarely happens with complete words and phrases in English, but is often seen in punctuation or less frequently used symbols, such as symbols for international currency. In other countries which use other types of encoding and decoding processes, mojibake can be a very frequent problem. Countries also have their own names for mojibake, for instance, in Bulgaria, it's called majmunica or “monkey’s alphabet,” whereas in Serbia is called dubre or “trash.”

In general, mojibake shows some of the remaining limitations of global IT, where advanced technologies have made so many things uniform, but still struggle with the nuances of representing and displaying messages in the full spectrum of world languages.

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