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Re^2: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

by chas (Priest)
on Nov 22, 2005 at 20:56 UTC ( #510903=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
in thread PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

Regarding "acronyms" which have been mentioned a few times in this and related threads, it's interesting to me that typing "perldoc perl" brings up a doc that states (at the beginning) "perl - Practical Extraction and Report Language" and then later "Perl actually stands for Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister, but don't tell anyone I said that." This would add credence to the thought that Perl is an acronym. Now acronyms are frequently (traditionally?) written in caps. However,"perldoc -q perl" displays a doc that states "But never write "PERL", because perl isn't really an acronym, apocryphal folklore and post-facto expansions notwithstanding."
So I don't do that, and I noticed from the beginning of my acquaintance with Perl that anyone who wrote "PERL" was immediately corrected. I understand that certain things (like writing "PERL" or leaving the cap off the toothpaste) can really annoy people, and that makes sense. But I've never been really sure why "PERL" is so heuristically incorrect aside from the fact that almost everyone agrees that is the case - which I suppose is good enough reason.
(Hope someone hasn't already said all this...)
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Re^3: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
by kiat (Vicar) on Nov 25, 2005 at 15:42 UTC
    I think Perl is a little unique here. It's an acronym (therefore mistakely written as PERL) as well as being pronounceable, so written as Perl.

    A language name like Python doesn't share this uniqueness, in the sense that hardly anyone would write PYTHON. It's not an acronym but the name of an animal. And becuase it's a proper noun, so it's unambiguously written Python.

    PHP, on the other hand, is both an acronym and is unpronounceable. Consequently, it's rare to see it written as Php (I think).

      Perl is not an acronym. The name came first, the words that supposedly make this acronym came later. It's not written "Perl" because it's pronouncable - the name was picked to be a pronouncable word, and one with positive associations ('Gloria' has been a contender for the name of the language, and 'Perl' was almost called 'Pearl' - but it turned out that was already a language with that name (in fact, there are already several languages with the name 'Pearl')).

      PHP on the other hand is an acronym. IIRC, it used to mean "Personal Home Pages", although I think it now stands for something else.

      The fact that Perl is often written as PERL becomes from the 'joke' in the first manual page of Perl (which as survived till today) where the NAME section says:

      perl - Practical Extraction and Report Language
      Perl --((8:>*

        So we're willing to condemn a large number of people to be "not part of the community" just because they fell for a joke in the official perl manpage that doesn't have a smiley or anything to indicate it's a joke?

        I'm sorry, but having the perl manpage say this and perlfaq1 to say something to contradict it, how is this person, who is otherwise completely competent at putting out useful product in perl, supposed to know which one is right, when they don't actually affect his/her perl code?

        It's like going to a lawyer, having the lawyer tell you your shoe is untied, looking down, and having the entire law office break out into laughter at you. You didn't read that manpage looking for a joke. And now the community is laughing at you for falling for it.

        Sorry, that's not just unfair, it's downright rude and condescending.

        The word "Perl" (let's for a moment forget about how's it's written, whether Perl, perl or PERL), stands for Practical Extraction and Reporting Language. It's in this sense that I say it's an acronym. Could you enlighten me how that's wrong?

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