OT: Programmers whos first language is not English

Stephen Horne intentionally at blank.co.uk
Sun Mar 9 23:50:23 CET 2003

On Sun, 9 Mar 2003 22:05:50 +0100, Grzegorz Adam Hankiewicz
<gradha at titanium.sabren.com> wrote:

>1) You may need special tools depending on your language, forcing
>people to a specific environment.


>2) Code written in a language looks bad mixed with another
>one. Where's the advantage of using a keyword in your native language
>when 85% of the code is calls to a library written in english you
>don't have control over?

This presumably already happens when identifiers are written in a
local language.

>3) You prevent people not able to speak the language from
>contributing it.

Nope - by translating at least the keywords, the gap should be
slightly narrower.

> Certainly this happens with english too,
>but nowadays it is the lowest common denominator for computer

That is basically what I want to find out. Just because the keywords
are all English, doesn't mean identifiers are always English - a small
number of keywords is easy enough to learn anyway, and even English
speakers need to learn not to use synonyms, but this is not true for
identifiers. Of course I'm probably arguing *against* myself here - if
the keywords are easy to learn, why bother with translation?

> Esperanto might want to change that, a herculean effort,
>an even then it's not your native language.


I heard a rather amusing story about Esperanto, a while back.
Apparently there was a meeting of Esperanto speakers from around the
world - and they couldn't understand each other.

Esperanto is spoken by very few people, but speakers find small groups
that they almost always practice with. These circumstances - close
interaction in small groups with little interaction between groups -
inherently creates extreme local accents and dialects. Rather defeats
the point, really ;-)

If there's a future single world language, it will probably follow the
'Spanglish" route, but mixing other major languages as well such as
Chinese and German. But I doubt local languages will be given up
easily. Look at the way some once dying languages are now gaining
support due to cultural pride.

>4) It doesn't matter what language you choose: soon programmers
>start using abbreviatures in function/variable names which don't
>mean anything even to other native programmers.

True. Very true, in fact. A common conversation...

"Hi - you wrote this, didn't you?"


"What does the identifier 'XQZ' mean?"

"Erm - dunno - I haven't worked on that for over an hour."

>Your idea is nice in that the source code would store the identifiers

Nope - the mapping from XML element 'keyword tokens' to the visible
keywords would be in an editor configuration file. Move the source
code from one place to another and the keywords automatically
translate according to the new configuration file.

>and the editor would show them in your preferred language. The bad
>thing is that it won't be able to do that with the function/variable
>names a programmer will write.


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