variable xref

Mark Waddingham mark at
Fri Mar 30 17:56:51 CEST 2018

An important question to ask here is 'what do we mean by English-like'?

I'd suggest that the language doesn't matter - so 'natural language like' would perhaps be a better term but even then is that really what we mean?

There's no inherent difference (formally at least) between a programming language and a natural language - at least from the way they are written (letters, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary) and perhaps not even in terms of interpretation (what a phrase in a language means - they are either declarations/definition of things, providing context or instructing actions).

The difference comes at the point we consider the 'machine' which the language is instructing - human or computer.

From this (very narrow) point of view, human machines (the brain) are perhaps just a great deal better 'engineered' to process language quickly and have a much greater capacity for storing, recalling and processing contextual information which means ambiguities can be resolved with a much greater degree of precision and fault tolerance.

So we are perhaps talking about constructing language(s) which allows a computer to be instructed more like we would a human - i.e. not having to define every single thing in mind numbing detail, knowing that the receiver has enough competence and knowledge to infer and fill in the gaps correctly and then carrying out those actions with a high degree of accuracy (although computers are probably already better for accuracy in many domains - they just need their hand held throughout!) or at least have the ability to shout when things really don't 'compute'. In this vein I'm not sure syntax is so important.

I don't think the experiment as you put it has yet ended - computers and their software development have just not caught up yet which is, in part, probably at least related to performance of computer machines for these kinds of tasks.

Warmest Regards,


Sent from my iPhone

> On 30 Mar 2018, at 15:35, Bob Sneidar via use-livecode <use-livecode at> wrote:
> I agree. The goal was to make computing as english like as possible, but the take away to that great experiment is that one can only go so far. People interpret what a person may mean. Computers do not have that luxury. Still xTalk is a magnificient accomplishment. 
> Bob S
>> On Mar 29, 2018, at 21:34 , Mike Kerner via use-livecode <use-livecode at> wrote:
>> I agree that unquoted literals are not ideal.  I think they should be
>> deprecated, and I think they should have been removed in 1986, so add that
>> to the LC10 list.  They have always made reading scripts more difficult.
>> Readability and approachability are two things that have set xtalk apart.
>> Unquoted literals detract from that.
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