[Python-Dev] Is object the most base type? (bpo-20285)

Terry Reedy tjreedy at udel.edu
Fri Feb 2 01:53:00 EST 2018


 >>> object.__doc__
'The most base type'

I and several people on python-list thread "interactive help on the base 
object" (Dec   2013) thought this could be improved.  On
https://bugs.python.org/issue20285 and
https://github.com/python/cpython/pull/4759

After some research, I believe the following, which is wrote on the 
issue, explains the uneasiness many feel.

'Base' is actually two words.  As a noun (or verb), it comes from 
Ancient Greek βάσις (básis), a foundation from which other things extend 
or derive.  As an adjective, it comes from Late Latin bassus (“low”).

In computer science and Python, the couplet 'base class' is being used, 
it seems to me and apparently others, as a noun-noun compound, meaning, 
'foundation class', not as an adjective-noun phrase meaning 'low class' 
(let along 'depraved class').  However, 'most base class' must be parsed 
as '(most base) class', with 'base' re-interpreted as the adjective 
meaning 'low' (or worse).  The switch in meaning of 'base' is similar in 
'baseball' versus  'most base ball'.
---

I have suggested
"The superclass for all Python classes."
"The starting base class of all types and classes other than itself."

I intended to pick the second, but Serhiy Storchake wants more opinions.

-- 
Terry Jan Reedy




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