carpe linguam

Tom Culliton culliton at
Sat Aug 21 18:22:47 CEST 1999

In article <37bd5e2a at>,
Tom Christiansen  <tchrist at> wrote:
>Private mail has indicated a remarkably amount of distrust about my
>learning Python.  Some verges on the unbelievable.  

Tone.  Everything has to do with tone.  If you read a comparison of
Perl to some other language written in the same tone as your original
Python/Perl messages you might bristle too.  Your tone makes it sound
like you're trashing Python, and often arbitrarily, "this isn't done
in the same way thet perl does it so it's gross..." often seems to be
the sum and total of your objection in the original message.  You do
tone it down some in the next one, and even point out things that you
think are "cool" about Python, but that write up still often misses
the point because of gaps in your understanding.

>Secondly, and much more importantly, the reason I am learning Python
>is *not* because I wish to "score some quick hits and prove to c.l.p.m
>that Perl is best after all" [sic] as one private querent asked, to my
>complete and utter horror.
>You may not have known this of me, but I am a collector of languages,
>and to some extent, of language trivia.  Can you honestly believe that
>I studied Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Latin merely
>to prove to myself and the world that English was the best language?

I would assume your motivations for learning languages are the same as
mine, to broaden your horizons, pick up useful ideas and concepts, be
able to understand what other folks are on about, ...  All noble and
admirable goals.

Your motivation, as a prominent Perl advocate, for publishing these
comparisons, while you're still coming up the learning curve, seems
more questionable, and appearance is usually all that we have to go by
on the net.

Every language has it's oddities, rough spots, and abuses.  Every
language has it's own idioms, tricks, and required knowledge.  Every
language has it's advocates and detractors.  Some of your critiques of
Python are valid, some are just incomplete knowledge, some are just
matters of taste or what you're used to.  Since you are who you are,
your comparison got widely published by LWN and possibly others as
"gospel" which is rather distressing.

Frankly I generally skip anything in this newsgroup with Perl in the
title as a likely flame fest.  I only saw your messages because LWN
had published them.  Since most of what I've seen you post in the past
seems rational, reasonable, and intelligent, my take has been that
you're somebody who has interesting and worthwhile things to say, if
with a general Perl bias.  So maybe you were just having an off day
and weren't minding your style?  ;-) ;-) ;-)

I urge you to keep trying and keep writing about your experience with
learning Python.  It's good for the Python community to get different
perspectives on the language, and discuss them.  I also urge you to
double check the details, and avoid potential flamebait when you do
so.  If we can't get by your style we can't appreciate your substance.

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