English Like?

Mark Waddingham mark at livecode.com
Thu May 25 04:10:57 EDT 2017

On 2017-05-24 23:47, Mark Wieder via use-livecode wrote:
> On 05/24/2017 08:03 AM, Mark Waddingham via use-livecode wrote:
>> Syntax is an emotive issue (I could beat Python to death with some of 
>> the decisions they have made about syntax - but yet I still use it and 
>> slightly enjoy doing so for the purposes I use it for) - but it is not 
>> the be-all-and-end-all.
> I could say the same for any of the computer languages I use.

Very true.

Of course, the thing here is that (in general) we have more control over 
the grammar and semantics of *programming languages* with constraints of 

In a new language, we have complete control so (in theory) it should be 
possible to be unambiguous, consistent and intuitive as far as is 
possible... Assuming that one has 100% foresight and knows everything at 
the point of design. Failing that, one just does not add features until 
one is sure that they 'correct' (for some definition of 'correct') cf: 
switch in LCB.

In an existing language, we have significant constraints with regards 
backwards-compatibility and consistency to what is already there. In 
many cases, inconsistencies or un-intuitive is actually what you might 
call 'a lack of abstraction of a pattern' - an idea has been implemented 
for specific cases, but is actually an instance of a more general 
abstraction underneath. Of course in other cases, they come about 
because the remit of things that were considered when they were added 
was not wide enough and friction develops between what you have at the 
point of implementation, and what occurs to you later down the line (in 
some cases, many many years down the line).

The former generally allows things to evolve in a backwards-compatible 
way, but the latter it is a great deal harder - however that's where 
some sort of 'language versioning' mechanism (e.g. scriptVersion) can 
help. Of course you need the infrastructure for the latter to be able to 
make progress on those fronts - something we don't *yet* have in LCS.

> And not just computer languages- the various forms of the irregular
> verbs for instance...
> Old English am had two plural forms: 1. sind/sindon, sie and 2.
> earon/aron. The s- form (also used in the subjunctive) fell from
> English in the early 13c. (though its cousin continues in German sind,
> the 3rd person plural of "to be") and was replaced by forms of be, but
> aron (see are) continued, and as am and be merged it encroached on
> some uses that previously had belonged to be. By the early 1500s it
> had established its place in standard English.

Hehe - I think I understand English's irregular verbs better now :)

Warmest Regards,


Mark Waddingham ~ mark at livecode.com ~ http://www.livecode.com/
LiveCode: Everyone can create apps

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