[Python-ideas] English builtins for Python

Steve Howell showell30 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 21 11:36:05 CEST 2007

--- Jason Orendorff <jason.orendorff at gmail.com> wrote:
> Me, previously, on noun phrases:

In that post you said:

Noun phrases are the product of a linguistic evolution
that was 
basically finished thousands of years before we were
born.  The syntax 
isn't merely interesting.  It's the best concrete
syntax for the 
abstract concept it represents.  Period.  You're not
going to beat it. 
(Well, arguably.  My assumption here is that evolution
is smarter than 
engineers, which I think ought not be controversial.) 

Yes indeed.  I was experiencing a similar thought
process as I was writing my post.  Although you pick
out noun phrases as a sort of inevitable evolutionary
outcome of human speech optimized on some valid
dimension, I was picking up on a different figure of
speech, the article.  It's amazing how uncommon "the"
and "a" are in mainstream programming languages.  I'm
not saying they should be (although I think there's
some argument to using "the" for singletons), I just
find it curious that they shouldn't be, and there's
been enough evolution on programming languages (albeit
a small amount of time compared to natural languages)
to suggest that articles (as builtins) are just
somehow *wrong* in programming languages.  Yet they're
so incredible popular in "natural" languages.

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