Defining Python Source Code Encodings

François Pinard pinard at
Wed Jul 18 16:00:45 CEST 2001

[Roman Suzi]

> As I was said in c.l.p earlier, this is very bad idea and Python Style
> Guide says that if you expect to other people from other countries read
> your code, write your comments in English.

In many, really many cases, people never expected other people from other
countries to read their code.  It is only a small fraction of people who
write for the whole planet, you know.  There are a lot of closed shops
on this planet, either by lack of interest, either because of industrial
secrets.  And you will agree that many people merely write for themselves.

In schools environments, it is unrealistic to ask young students to document
in English, or even, to use English identifiers -- they will only get to hate
the language if they cannot express themselves easily in it.  And teachers
of non-computer disciplines will only learn to hate computers if these do not
help students to master how to correctly write and spell their own language.

> Exchange of programs will be nearly impossible if variable names will
> be in native tongues!

I know when to write English code, and I know when it would be fully proper
to use French identifiers.  Be sure I would often use them.  So please,
let it me my own choice!  I think I did my good share at contributing code,
yet I starve being able to write in my own language when it makes sense
for me to do so.  And it often makes sense, as I do not share everything.

> I, for example, can navigate faster in English versions of software,
> because translations differ.  And even simple "Edit" has several variants.
> So, this "interoperability" will actually make interoperability harder,
> at least for Open Source.  For anything else I do not care.

It is a current state of affairs that understanding English and programming
are likely coincident, nowadays.  But it goes both ways.  I know people who
hardly program _because_ English is difficult for them.  The programmer in
the office next to mine is reluctant to Python (and any other programming
language) because French support is lacking, especially for documentation.

There is a need for people working with computers in their own language,
and who do not aim world inter-operability.  If Python is a CP4E solution,
it has to go towards people, instead of pulling everybody towards English.

François Pinard

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