|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Re: International Perl Resourcesby tadman (Prior)
|on Jan 30, 2001 at 20:27 UTC||Need Help??|
I am curious about how often are computer languages themselves translated. Historically, it would seem that non-English speakers have had a substantial disadvantage when it came to programming because not only is the documentation in terse, highly technical English filled with obscure jargon, but the languages themselves are often composed of English words with a loosely coupled meaning.
Unlike mathematics or engineering, where equations look pretty much the same in any language (i.e. "E=mc2" or what have you) because of the use of Latin and Greek symbols, computer programming has taken a decidedly English bent ever since the first real "langauges" evolved out of the primordial machine language, and this includes assembly language.
If you had no idea what English was, and perhaps had only recently learned the Roman alphabet, Perl code, which can often look like line noise even to the average educated English-speaking programmer, may look even more inscrutable. Can you tell what this really basic Perl program does?
Which would be even further complicated if the programmer wasn't even used to reading "right-to-left", such as Hebrew, or Arabic.
In a discussion with some associates, we were debating the merits of translating the syntax of a given language, such as HTML or Perl, into a coherent and understandable version for another language. I was thinking that even if this alternate version required a filter or parser to work properly, it would certainly chop a few major steps out of the learning curve, such as "Step 1: Learn English (One of the Most Unwieldly Languages on Earth)".
Translating the core syntax shouldn't be a terribly difficult job, at least technically speaking. This could be done any number of ways, from a module which would work on any program by Filtering the input, to a re-compiled interpreter which was called if the program was in a certain format. Converting between syntax-sets could be done easily, as the symbols may be represented by different characters. "A `shift' by any other name..." as Shakespeare might have said, were he a Perl programmer instead of a playwright.
Progressive projects like the Multilingual Domain Names are making the Internet a whole lot more understandable and accessible to the world at large. Certainly the programming languages that have made the Internet what it is today will make a similar effort.
Too wacky, or is this sort of thing worth considering?