Origin of the term "first-class object"

Peter Hansen peter at engcorp.com
Tue Nov 18 18:59:01 CET 2003

Mel Wilson wrote:
>    And a good thing, as you and I think.  Names are
> first-class in natural human languages, and look what
> happens:
>      "...The name of the song is called 'Haddocks'
>    Eyes'."
>      "Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?"  Alice
>    said, trying to feel interested.
>      "No, you don't understand," the Knight said,
>    looking a little vexed.  "That's what the name is
>    _called_.  The name really is 'The Aged Aged Man'."
>      "Then I ought to have said 'That's what the song is
>    called'?"  Alice corrected herself.
>      "No, you oughtn't!  That's quite another thing!
>    The song is called 'Ways and Means':  but that's only
>    what it's called, you know."
>      "Well, what is the song then?" said Alice, who was
>    by this time completely bewildered.
>      "I was coming to that," the Knight said.  "The song
>    really is 'A-sitting on a Gate', and the tune's my
>    own invention."
>                         _Through the Looking Glass_, of course
>                         Lewis Carroll

Wow!  That shows just how precise one can sometimes need to be,
especially with things like "names" in Python (which we sometimes
call variables, but which actually are just *bindings* ;-).


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