How do I get str.translate to work with Unicode strings?

The Unicode version of translate requires a mapping from Unicode ordinals (which you can retrieve for a single character with ord) to Unicode ordinals. If you want to delete characters, you map to None.

I changed your function to build a dict mapping the ordinal of every character to the ordinal of what you want to translate to:

def translate_non_alphanumerics(to_translate, translate_to=u'_'):
    not_letters_or_digits = u'!"#%\'()*+,-./:;<=>?@[\]^_`{|}~'
    translate_table = dict((ord(char), translate_to) for char in not_letters_or_digits)
    return to_translate.translate(translate_table)

>>> translate_non_alphanumerics(u'<foo>!')

edit: It turns out that the translation mapping must map from the Unicode ordinal (via ord) to either another Unicode ordinal, a Unicode string, or None (to delete). I have thus changed the default value for translate_to to be a Unicode literal. For example:

>>> translate_non_alphanumerics(u'<foo>!', u'bad')

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