Why would I learn Python over other languages?

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Fri Jul 9 07:47:54 CEST 2004

Arthur wrote:

> ...
> 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.

  Paul Prescod

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