This definitely sounds like a job for regular expressions. You should be able to grab the word to the left of searching Using character classes, specifically \S, which "represents any non-whitespace character". You can then use that to write your own sorting routine, as described in sort. Don't forget that cmp is case sensitive, so you may want to use lc in your comparison.
in reply to ordering array of sentences
#11929 First ask yourself `How would I do this without a computer?' Then have the computer do it the same way.