What is Expressiveness in a Computer Language

Ben Morrow benmorrow at tiscali.co.uk
Wed Jun 21 06:08:37 CEST 2006

Quoth David Hopwood <david.nospam.hopwood at blueyonder.co.uk>:
> Pascal Costanza wrote:
> > Chris Smith wrote:
> > 
> > Types can be represented at runtime via type tags. You could insist on
> > using the term "dynamically tagged languages", but this wouldn't change
> > a lot. Exactly _because_ it doesn't make sense in a statically typed
> > setting, the term "dynamically typed language" is good enough to
> > communicate what we are talking about - i.e. not (static) typing.
> Oh, but it *does* make sense to talk about dynamic tagging in a statically
> typed language.

Though I'm *seriously* reluctant to encourage this thread...

A prime example of this is Perl, which has both static and dynamic
typing. Variables are statically typed scalar/array/hash, and then
scalars are dynamically typed string/int/unsigned/float/ref.

> That's part of what makes the term "dynamically typed" harmful: it implies
> a dichotomy between "dynamically typed" and "statically typed" languages,
> when in fact dynamic tagging and static typing are (mostly) independent
> features.

Nevertheless, I see no problem in calling both of these 'typing'. They
are both means to the same end: causing a bunch of bits to be
interpreted in a meaningful fashion. The only difference is whether the
distinction is made a compile- or run-time. The above para had no


Every twenty-four hours about 34k children die from the effects of poverty.
Meanwhile, the latest estimate is that 2800 people died on 9/11, so it's like
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twelve times every day. Full of children. [Iain Banks]  benmorrow at tiscali.co.uk

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