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Re: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

by chester (Hermit)
on Nov 22, 2005 at 18:43 UTC ( #510876=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

I think it's good to have things that bind us as a community, and common speech is one of those things.

However, I think the distinction between PERL and perl and Perl is silly. I usually type it lowercase because I'm used to typing the command that way, and because it's linux-ish to lowercase as many things as possible, among other reasons. The same way I say bash instead of BASH, even though it's an acronymn. I have read the FAQ in perldoc, I understand the reasoning behind the distinction, I do try to "give" to the community in those ways in which I'm able, but I don't think it's worth worrying about the capitalization of the word "perl". If you judge people according to such criteria, I think you may misjudge people. I think it's very easy to read too much into something this trivial. It's possible to be plugged into the community without being exactly like everyone else in the community down to this level of detail.

This kind of thing reaches the level of dogma, in my eyes. There's no compelling reason for it (in my estimation) other than that it's proclaimed to be true by a source of authority. If I say "I needed to parse some text, so I wrote a perl script to do it", is there anyone who will misunderstand me, thinking I rewrote the interpreter itself? It's sometimes strange to see things like this being made into pseudo-religion. (Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that; I've done my share of worshipping at the perl altar, but not when it comes to my precious choice of words. : ) )

Off-topic: This is the same reason I have no problem using comma splices, I feel that it gives a certain "atmosphere" or feel to a sentence that isn't possible using periods or semicolons, similar to a short pause in spoken language. Not all things that are "linguistically wrong" are the result of laziness or ignorance, some are the result of calculated independent choice. : ) So long as it doesn't hinder communication, I generally find nothing wrong with it.

  • Comment on Re: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

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Re^2: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
by chas (Priest) on Nov 22, 2005 at 20:56 UTC
    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...)
      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:>*
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Re^2: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
by merlyn (Sage) on Nov 22, 2005 at 23:11 UTC
    This is the same reason I have no problem using comma splices
    But why use a comma there when a semicolon accomplishes the same effect; it joins two complete sentences together with a slight pause shorter than a period might. And if all you want is a slight pause—for a parenthetical phrase or sentence fragment—the em dash does just nicely, and is not frowned upon.

    We have conventions for a reason. We have an agreement on what works for everyone. Inventing your own meanings is great in the privacy of your own cube, but why invent something that already exists?

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

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