I’ve just been on holiday and a few discussions with some Finnish Swedes got me wondering. Apparently Swedish is much more similar to English than Finnish. Finnish has some really strange grammatical constructions apparently.
Indeed, it's a Finno-Ugric language, that is, it's not even Indo-European unlike most other languages spoken in Europe, including both Germanic and Italic ones which are thus much more similar each other. English itself is considered a Germanic one, although it has had many many influences.
What has this got to do with Perl? Well, the question is. Would modern programming languages have been any different in their structure if they had been entirely developed by Finnish only speaking Finns, for example.
Probably so. But not only Perl. I would say that influences would have been clear in most high level enough programming languages. Of course in Perl natural language principles are pervasive, thus it would be interesting to hear $Larry's opinion on this question. One thing that I know is that I'm a big fan of RPN and asked something about it p6l; $Larry's reply included:
Nope. I used to think RPN was completely unnatural. Then I started
learning Japanese, and now I not so sure am. :-)
Interesting, ain't it?!?
Also, it is clear that the British are no more similar to the Germans, Swedish, Norwegians, Danish and Austrians than the Spanish, Italians and French. So what was it that drew us to the Germanic language form?
I think it's clear enough it's only because of cutural circumstances: most programming languages were born in English speaking countries. I bet Klingon ones are strongly imperative! Klingon geeks despise event driven petaQ: they drive events, not the other way round. And their programs don't have loops. They aim straight to the heart: they often kill and rarely die, but when they do, it's with honour.
What is superior about this form and can we learn from this when developing programming languages?
Well as a native Italian speaker, I appreciate the richness of my own mother tongue and for many things I favour it over English. One thing I really really love of the latter though is the facility with which one syntactical element can be made into another one: an adjective into a noun or vice versa, a verb into a noun and vice versa, and so on. While writing my thesis in Italian I had to write something along the lines of "number theoretic property", but there is absolutely no way to express the same concept that concisely, that is, without a longer paraphrasis: because we have "Teoria dei Numeri", but we can't easily make that into a single adjective. I think Perl got this right in many respects, and Perl 6 even more so.
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