Why would I learn Python over other languages?
paul at prescod.net
Fri Jul 9 07:47:54 CEST 2004
> I don't think that is true of Python. I think there is a layer of
> Python that one cannot reasonably penetrate without stepping outside
> of Python.
> One can get started with Python, with Python.
> But in the end I don't think Python serves as a fully adequate
> introduction to itself.
In one sense I think that any language is a sufficient introduction to
itself. Given enough time and effort you learn every trick, see every
corner exposed by someone (perhaps someone with a different background
than you) and learn everything there is to possibly know. Sometimes it
is MORE EFFICIENT to step outside the language to learn it but one can
do the whole thing from the inside. It would be a lot easier to learn
physics if we could step outside the universe and experiment with the
rules but we scrape away at it from the inside and figure it out the
hard way. Python is surely simpler to understand than the universe.
In another sense, every language builds on other languages and you will
always feel you are missing something if you know the language but not
the ones it is built upon. A C++ programmer who doesn't understand
assembly language does not know what an function call "really" is (in
terms of its implementation).
Sometimes Python's implementation language leaks through. "Why is it
that way? Because it is in C?" But that is also true for C++. What does
the register keyword mean? Or ask a Lisper what "cdr" means...
I am skeptical that Python is either more or less self-revealing in
these senses than any other language.
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