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Another day, another nit

by hv (Parson)
on Dec 20, 2005 at 12:44 UTC ( #518052=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

In Interaction between languages in Parrot, chromatic wrote parenthetically: nit: Perl 6, with the space please.

Why? And more important, what makes the distinction important enough to make? Is this a deliberate attempt to out-shibboleth [Pp]erl[ ]?5?

The responses indicated that everyone clearly understood what language the OP was referring to when he mentioned "Perl6", so the important thing - communication - was achieved. And unless the p6 community has created or is about to invent distinct meanings for "Perl6" and "Perl 6", I don't see the potential for miscommunication in the future.

I fear this sort of pedantry, aimed at people that have not yet made the jump, will unnecessarily drive people away - and I am sure the spark of an aside today will feed the forest fire of future flamewars.

Please leave pedantry to the compiler. It knows what it wants, and it usually has a good reason for it.


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Re: Another day, another nit
by merlyn (Sage) on Dec 20, 2005 at 16:59 UTC
    Keep in mind that chromatic, like me, writes for at least part of his living, and is also a technical editor at least part of the time (like me). We have a different level of sensitivity about agreed-upon spellings and terminologies as a natural result of our attempt to make many different writers look consistent.

    I suspect that chromatic and the O'Reilly staff have already created some style guidelines for books about Perl 6, and somewhere on this list it says "Perl 6, not Perl6". While this may appear arbitary to some, it will nevertheless define the way that all official texts from O'Reilly will appear. And dare I say, as O'Reilly goes, so goes the community. {grin}

    The whole distinction between "perl" and "Perl" was a similar declaration on my part during the writing of the initial Camel. I told Larry that the name of the language "disappears" when it is in the middle of the sentence, and we agreed that we could call the language Perl, and the interpreter perl (in a constant font), so that neither of them would disappear in text.

    Was this completely justified in an absolute sense? Not really. It's a style decision for typographical reasons, but it also defined how an entire generation of people spelled both.

    So, ease up on chromatic. He's probably quoting chapter and verse of a style guide that has been defined and agreed upon. Because of that, it'll also be how every "official" doc appears, and if you write it differently, people may understand what you mean, but they'll wonder why you're typing it differently.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
    Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

      ... a style guide that has been defined and agreed upon

      Binding on O'Reilly authors, perhaps, but not on PerlMonks.

        Uh, what part of what I said would disagree with that? Not sure why you're trying to make a point here.

        Sure, it's an O'Reilly standard. But I'm free to suggest to you that you also use the same standard here. You're free to reject it. What's your point?

        -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
        Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

      The whole distinction between "perl" and "Perl" was a similar declaration on my part during the writing of the initial Camel. I told Larry that the name of the language "disappears" when it is in the middle of the sentence, and we agreed that we could call the language Perl, and the interpreter perl (in a constant font), so that neither of them would disappear in text.

      Uggh! It's your fault! :-( Sorry, but I've always hated the capitalization convention, because it breaks English capitalization rules for no good purpose.

      How often did you really need to distinguish between the language and the interpreter that translates the language? In the rare case that you did, why could't you use the extra word instead of forcing the reader to remember that when the non-proper noun Perl is capitalized (contrary to the expected rule for capitalization), it is secretly a macro that expands to mean "the perl language", whereas, in all other cases, "perl" means "the perl interpreter", and not "the perl language". This is contrary to what is done with all other computer languages I know of; and contrary to the rules for English, as well.

      I guess I'm annoyed because now people on PerlMonks act like I'm the one who's wrong when I don't mis-use the English language standard like everyone else.

      It's a real problem. I'm losing my ability to speak my native language, because people keep breaking the few patterns we still have that keep it cohesive and comprehensible. I don't understand the people on my street; they don't speak the same dialect of English that I do. I've watched in bemusement as two foreigners struggle to say two words to each other, because each one mangles their English in an incompatible way.

      And when I finally spend time with literate people who should know enough to respect a language, I instead get these kinds of linguistic abuses to contend with. I've got enough legitimate exceptions to remember how to deal with without tripping over deliberately engineered trickiness.

      Sorry to rant, but it's just another straw on the camel's back for me.

        I usually don't care for linguistic drift, but remember that English capitalization "rules" developed quite a while before reprinting literal commands for computers accurately became necessary. Some American English quoting "rules" tend to break other commands if typed literally as written too.

        Doesn't english differentiate between nouns and names? The name of the language is 'Perl', like Peter, Paul and Mephistopheles, and the noun meaning the interpreter is 'perl'. I don't see any problems with the distinction of those two, but maybe that's because I'm not a native english speaker.

        Also, language is evolving, Perl moves on to version 6, maybe english should come along too *scnr* ;)

        Ordinary morality is for ordinary people. -- Aleister Crowley
        It's clear to me that the English language you're referring to isn't the one I grew up speaking. "Perl" is the name of a particular langauge. Therefore, it's a proper noun, like "Larry", the name of the guy who wrote it, and for that matter "English", which you don't seem to have a problem with (not "the english language"). What in the world makes you think that "Perl" isn't a proper noun?

        If anything, object to "perl" being used uncapitalized for the name of the interpreter. But be aware that it's in conformance with a lot of tradition for computers (since the names of commands are usually case sensitive, it's common to leave them in all lower case even at the begining of sentences).

Re: Another day, another nit
by TimToady (Parson) on Dec 20, 2005 at 17:21 UTC
    I personally don't care how other people write it—there's something to be said for people writing it every way to help Google searches find something—but I always write it "Perl 6" because I think it looks better, and because in ten years I want the name of the language to be "Perl", not "Perl6". The "6" is officially just a version number, because the party line is that it's the same language no matter how much pretzelization we perform. :-)
      I believe Google searches would be easier for 'Perl6'.
        Google search tip: Stick a hyphen in your search term to indicate an optional space. Searching on perl-6 will find "perl 6" and "perl6".

        Caution: Contents may have been coded under pressure.
Re: Another day, another nit
by fergal (Chaplain) on Dec 20, 2005 at 14:54 UTC

    Update:Actually the idea below is an argument against having a space, I got confused about what the desired spelling was.

    I don't know if this is the thinking behind it or not but search engines will index "perl6" differently to "perl 6". People searching for "perl 6" without quoting it in the search query will get pages that mention "perl" and "6" and unfortunately will probably not get pages with "perl6".

    That said I think they're fighting an unwinnable battle, you may as well try get those ignorant Americans to spell "colour" and "centre" correctly :-).

      That said I think they're fighting an unwinnable battle, you may as well try get those ignorant Americans to spell "colour" and "centre" correctly :-).
      I agree with you on the /Perl ?6/ front. But the British borrowed those awful non-phonetic spellings from the French, didn't they? Too bad for us Italy or Spain wasn't closer geographically :p

      Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of

        I think nearly all English words are spelled phonetically - in the language they're borrowed from. French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, (Arabic, Indian?) all have consistent systems and we use them all!
Re: Another day, another nit
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Dec 20, 2005 at 18:12 UTC

    Pretty much every official place that talks about Perl 6 uses the space -- web pages, books, t-shirts, documentation. It's just a preference on my part, but I find it ugly without the space. (I suspect it looks wrong to me in the same way that someone capitalizing "van der" would look to you.)

Re: Another day, another nit
by thor (Priest) on Dec 20, 2005 at 15:58 UTC
    Personally, I see this kind of thing as divisive. Why get your panties all in a bunch just because someone a long time ago made the unfortunate choice of spelling the name of the interpreter (perl) the same as the language (Perl)? Moreover, this should all be fixed with the next version. We'll have the interpreter (parrot), the language (Perl, but perl should now be "acceptable" since it's no longer an overloaded term) and everything will be swell.


    The only easy day was yesterday

Re: Another day, another nit
by jonix (Friar) on Dec 20, 2005 at 14:51 UTC
    Not that I want to anticipate chromatics answer, but his kind plea in Re: Interaction between languages in Parrot makes sense to me.
    Pedantry is a key to good spelling which is a question of style.
    I don't see the potential for miscommunication in the future either - but there should be one agreed favourable way of spelling this properly.
    Just imagine everybody inventing his own orthography without ever sticking to it - but wait, this is what we already have, isn't it?

    (Update: Spelling corrections)
      Accuracy and consistency are keys to good spelling. Pedantry is defined explicitly with negative connotations: being excessive in demonstrating one's superior learning or skill, or being ostentatious about pointing out other people's inaccuracy.

      (Admittedly, an example may very well be this, my post.)

      [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

        You are right, thanks for pointing that out. Pedantry is just another word for nit-picking. I am not a native english speaker so I might have streched the words meaning to far.
        The point I wanted to make is that it depends on your audience and subject wether your current level of accuracy and consistency is considered appropriate. While it is perfectly possible to be a pedant without applying much accuracy and consistency (I would call this pathologic pedantry), you might have to become a bit of a pedant to yourself temporarily i.e. if you want to learn orthography or Perl, just until your new and now essential level of accuracy and consistency has become a habit.
        In this positive sense pedantry lost its negative connotations sometimes, at least for me. Most other humans will most likely consider perlmonks to be pedants anyway ;)
Re: Another day, another nit
by ambrus (Abbot) on Dec 20, 2005 at 22:38 UTC

    This is just my opinion, but for me Perl 6 seems to indicate that it's just a new version of Perl, while Perl6 suggests that it's a new language. (I might just be imagining this, see TeX78 is very different from TeX, but C99 is clearly only a new version of the C standard.)

    Also I recommend that you don't give too much importance to this issue. If, as you say, chromatic has said "nit", you don't have any reason to think it's a very important distinction.

    Updates: Also, the Perl 6 grammar will be more sensitive to whitespace as Perl 5 is, it's not that strange that people care moer about the whitespace in the language name. :)

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