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Re^4: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

by Perl Mouse (Chaplain)
on Nov 25, 2005 at 16:43 UTC ( #511704=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^3: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
in thread PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community

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^5: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
by Tanktalus (Canon) on Nov 25, 2005 at 17:40 UTC

    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.

      Yes, it's true that the Perl community has the tendency to laugh at people who take themselves too seriously. But yikes--please don't think of us as a law office. It seems you've wandered by accident into the comedy club for clowns next door, and we're just all having bozonic amounts of fun pretending to be lawyers. We all plead "Not Gillcup". :-)
        Mmmm, almost all -- at least one of us has passed the bar. But don't hate me, I came out of law school with my personality at least partially undamaged. ;)

        So, the question is, is the way you capitalize perl a BFOQ (bona fide occupational qualification)? An argument could be made either way; I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of an unfair hiring suit based on it, but I suspect most could survive such a suit based on other factors of the applicant anyway.

        *sigh* I should include the Disclaimer The preceding post is not intended to create any sort of attorney-client relationship or serve as legal advice for any specific situation. As such, this posting is not privileged and may be shared with other parties. If you have a specific legal problem, you should contact an attorney specializing in the subject matter of your issue.
      but having the perl manpage say this
      Say what? Show me any single place (other than the FAQ) where Perl is in all caps. It's not. Who cares if it has a backronym definition? It's capitalization by example, not by rule.

      Sorry, I don't see a contradiction here.

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

Re^5: PERL as shibboleth and the Perl community
by kiat (Vicar) on Nov 25, 2005 at 16:57 UTC
    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?
      That is wrong because Perl does not actually stand for that. No more than it stands for PerfectlyPathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister. (Which is also listed as a definition in the perl manpage.)

      But to interject some complications into the picture, Perl stands for both of those more than, say, Perl's an Extremely Reliable Language. Why do I say that? Because Larry Wall has said that he thought up the previous two backronyms while trying to come up with a name for his new language, and liked the wordplay. To the best of my knowledge he hadn't thought up the one that I just listed. (Though knowing him he might have though up those and a dozen more, but just liked the other two better.) So the existence of fun backronyms is part of why the name Perl was chosen, but Perl itself doesn't actually stand for anything and was never meant to.

      Update: Oops, Womeone Who Would Know privately corrected me on the backronym and verified the rest of what I said.

      It's in this sense that I say it's an acronym. Could you enlighten me how that's wrong?
      Perl is a Backronym. In fact, it's even listed in the List of backronyms.

      However, even if it was merely an acronym, the official spelling is still not capitalized—any more than "rom", "ram", "smog", "radar", "laser", "sonar", or "scuba" are capitalized now (which are all arguably acronyms, not backronyms).

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

        More than just being a single backronym, in adding its second gloss "perl" was intentionally turned into a backronym generator. It would be interesting linguistically to categorize backronyms into those that are productive and those that are fossilized. Certainly "perl" is still productive: "Polymorphic Existential Recursive Lambdas" is just the lastest one.
      Because perlfaq1 says it isn't.

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