[Edu-sig] Musings on PEP8

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Tue Jul 19 00:11:19 CEST 2011

On Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM, Vern Ceder <vceder at gmail.com> wrote:

> Since Kirby invoked me by name ;), I'll jump in with a quick top post,
> a) because I'm lazy and in a hurry, and b) because my comments are only
> generally related to the specifics of the previous posts. Apologies.
> First of all, in general I would respond to Kirby's musings by invoking my
> own personal principle that PEP 20 (specifically, "Practicality beats
> purity") trumps PEP 8. I would think that would be true when it comes to
> naming conventions in other languages. If it's a library that is useful to,
> say, Klingon speakers only, it would make sense to name the library and it's
> components in Klingon. OTOH, if they wanted to share their work and wanted
> it to be useful to the non-Klingon speaking Federation, Klingon might not be
> a practical or effective choice. (Of course, being Klingon, they may not
> care... ;) )

I'm glad we're having this thread as it relates to my work concerns also,
where many of my students, with whom I connect asynchronously, disclose to
me their difficulties with English.

Struggling with translators and so on is a fact of life, but the time will
come when hospital room LCDs illuminate with familiar glyphs, including
simple things like the light switch, bed controls.

Pictures and videos from home will fill the hospital room's picture frames,
with pointers embedded right in the medical record (managed like a profile,
by the patients themselves).

You'll be in a "language bubble" where your caretakers have spared no effort
to have you not focused on phrase book deciphering.  This is your body we're
talking about.

It's ridiculous that you should have to learn an alien tongue to follow the

The menu in the dining room will be in your language.

At least some of your fellow passengers will share your language also.

This might be a geek cruise, for people who code in Perl, mostly using

I'm not saying every hospital room will be this advanced, and perhaps not
the ones Anglophones manage, as they tend to take that trademark "others
should learn English" approach that so characterized the 113 years of
Anglo-British rule.

Russian maybe, hospital cruise ships, with some US health plans providing
access, but most too far behind the times.

Hotel management science is pioneering in these same directions.

Universities may bring up the rear, I don't know.

> Personally, I run into this issue on a daily basis these days. As the
> current maintainer of an entire web platform developed by our Japanese
> sister company, I face emails and documentation (including code comments) in
> Japanese, giving me ample practice with both Google translate and
> deciphering kana. When I chatted with the Japanese team (via Google
> translate, gestures, and scrawling code on the whiteboard) about the new
> features of Python 3, support for unicode in Python code got a cheer, and I
> certainly understand that.
> However, for sharing code, I'd have to agree with my namesake - diverging
> from the English standard is problematic. I'm finding what I think of as
> "technical Japanese" to be not that hard to understand, but that's exactly
> because so much of the vocabulary is borrowed from English - data, account,
> server, etc, etc, etc.
It's problematic, but that's not going to stop it from happening in various

A population of a few hundred thousand might easily support a bevy of open
source solutions that are encoded in the Klingon of that realm.

Think of a class definition with one Chinese ideograph for a name, and most
methods at most two characters.

The dot notation is still there, as are the calling parens.

The keywords, __init__, __repr__ -- all pretty familiar.  Use a translator

Of course the word of "self" might actually be replaced, with the symbol for
"used to be known as Prince" maybe (joke):



There's this dream of English always being some "lingua franca" (joke) of
the Open Source world, but per recent PSF member threads (me a threader),
not everyone dreams the same dream.

At one of the recent OSCONs, maybe five years ago, we had a panel on Open
Source in Africa.

The message from that corner was the open source tools were being
remastered, with an eye to reinventing many wheels from scratch.


Finally, I have to note that both of us Vernons are conversant in Latin,
> which is the sort of coincidence sportscasters are prone to mis-label
> "ironic"... ;)

I'm not bad with Latin cognates, having grown up watching Italian TV and
movies (lived in Rome), studied French and Spanish.

I'm also aware of the importance of English as a supra-national language, in
the Philippine Islands for example (my high school home), where so many
small user groups use it to get along at meetups.

English itself is always morphing.

Some have argued for the existence of a language called American (pronounce
amer-IKAN, like puerto-RICAN) which goes even further towards accommodating
its non-Anglo users.

Gene Fowler (poet) called it Amerish (same idea).

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