Why use Perl when we've got Python?!

James Logajan JamesL at Lugoj.Com
Wed Aug 25 06:24:29 CEST 1999

Xah wrote:
> English has evolved to be extremely
> versatile and useful. It gives you the freedom to express anything in any
> manner or style you want.

Don't know any English; just American <wink>. All that freedom leads to
ambiguity. Great for poetry; shitty for scientific work. So genius, how many
meanings do you think can be formed from the simple spoken phrase "Pretty
little girls school." Note the qualification of "spoken". The ear may hear
"girls," but can't tell if you meant "girl's" or "girls". And you can't
determine it from context. But even if you pick the plural form, I doubt you
could figure out all the meanings. And you are allowed to include only those
meanings that are of high plausibility.

The bottom line is that the English language is just not a good template to
use to design unambiguous languages. (I still don't know about the American
or Canadian languages though....)

> There
> is nothing whatsoever in math symbolism that cannot be expressed better by
> English. For example, a^2+b^2=c^2 can be expressed as "A number multiplied
> by itself plus another number multiplied by itself is equal to a third
> number multiplied by itself". Now, that's the verbose version you are
> thinking of. But look, "Sum of two squared equals one" is a condensed form.

Sorry, could not make sense out of that last sentence. Translated it to
something like 2^2 + ? = 1, which can't be right. So what color is the sky
in your world?

> Further, "Sum two squares is one". Or if you are a power speaker: "s2is1",
> which is more terse than the symbolic form and no information is lost
> because of _context_. (no, pure symbolism cannot do away with context) You
> know what a 'ball' is don't you? But in symbols, it's something like
> a^2+b^2+c^2=d with some elaborate coordinate system and an arcana of
> presumptions.
> I suggest that you go to www.perl.com and read Larry's speeches of perl
> conf. Anyone will do.

I just tried that. That man rambles on and on in an almost incoherent

> It really depends on who's doing the
> reading. If you are a math guy, then perhaps symbols is your thing. Most of
> us would prefer English. Legibility is purely subjective.

I note you say "Most of us," rather than "I". Who else are you writing for?
I insist that you not include me as an unwitting partner in your absurd

> Granted that a new language like math symbolism might have little
> theoretical advantage down the road for some theoretical cleanness,
> precision, or maybe expressiveness, but English has been used for literally
> eons.

Surely you could be more precise than "eons". I'm not sure how long a
literal eon lasts. My dictionary says an eon is "an extremely long,
indefinite period of time; thousands and thousands of years." (Useful hint:
many dictionaries actually include a brief history of the English language.)
But I think I now know where you are coming from; I still haven't figured
out the color of the sky on your world though.

> The inertia is strong, the legacy is golden, and no one can stop it.
> As I said before, it has also evolved into perfection. People will use
> English and people will prefer English over any arcane symbolism. It is
> egregious a crime that math text books are littered with arcane symbols
> instead of plain English. It is why no one in the world likes math.

Euler just hated it. So did Gauss. They are both dead, so obviously it
didn't help them any. And thank God the bible was written in English, like
the good Lord intended!

> One thing with English is that it has not evolved into a computing language
> yet, thus Perl comes to the rescue. Here's a little history lesson for you:
> Larry wanted to process
> some text as his job requires at Jet Propulsion Lab. However, with all
> unix's power and piping shit with sed and awk and baggage but he couldn't do
> it well. Therefore, following the unix tradition, he quickly hacked up his
> own language and put it on the net thinking that he's done human kind a big
> favor. Since unix community consists of largely of morons, they quickly
> picked up Larry's tool without much decision process. Thus, it gradually
> rolls into a snow ball. Perl's success is a direct result of democracy.

Oh; now I get it <wink>. Well, the joke is on me. Don't mind me, I'm a bit
slow on the uptake. I should have read all the way through. And I looked at
your web site. I must admit you write great parody. Anyway, I'll post this
with my comments as I originally started to enter them. Great work.

[Remainder of brilliant work elided.]

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