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Re^2: Perl and Linguistics

by Mr. Muskrat (Abbot)
on Jul 04, 2008 at 17:42 UTC ( #695607=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Perl and Linguistics
in thread Perl and Linguistics

My beef is that by calling various unrelated notations "computer languages", you further smudge the fine line between machines and people. It used to be pretty straightforward. A loom is a loom -- you don't "communicate" with it when you work it. Once you have "computer languages", it's a small step to think of a computer and programming in anthropomorphic terms. As well as being detrimental, it's silly and harmful.

You don't instruct a loom how to do any thing, you just use it; that's a bad analogy because you do have to give instructions to a computer. Those instructions are written in a synthetic language that humans can read and write; humans not computers. Computers don't understand "computer languages", they are just translate them into a machine code that they do understand.

A computer is not a living being. It has no consciousness, you cannot talk with it, and it doesn't have a will. It's brilliantly constructed machinery, but still a machine. As well as elevating this machine to the status of a human, the phrase "computer language" makes us more similar to the machines. That in turn perpetuates thinking about people as a resource to be exploited, and generates inaccurate analogies such as your memory being "like a harddisk".

You haven't been programming long, have you? I talk to computers all the time and I know that I am not the only one who does it! Sometimes they respond and sometimes they don't. "Come on you crummy thing, work!" ;)

Coming back to Perl 5, yes, some features were inspired by natural language constructs, such as $_. It doesn't make it a natural language in any way.

I do not think that anyone has ever called Perl a natural language but it is more than just another synthetic language because it was inspired by natural language. Well written Perl when spoken just rolls off the tongue like a song. :D


Comment on Re^2: Perl and Linguistics
Re^3: Perl and Linguistics
by doom (Deacon) on Jul 04, 2008 at 20:47 UTC

    Those instructions are written in a synthetic language that humans can read and write; humans not computers. Computers don't understand "computer languages", they are just translate them into a machine code that they do understand.

    It's debatable whether the primary purpose of "computer languages" is to communicate with the computer. You often use them to communicate with other people who are trying to communicate with the computer.

    If you look at all the many and various arguments about the virtues of this or that computer "language", very few of them revolve around whether the compiler will be able to understand what you're saying.

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