Terminology (Re: Strong/weak typing)

Derek Martin code at pizzashack.org
Sat Aug 2 16:04:13 CEST 2008


On Fri, Aug 01, 2008 at 03:57:10PM +0000, Alan Franzoni wrote:
> MartinRinehart at gmail.com was kind enough to say:
> 
> > I'm writing Python as if it were strongly typed, never recycling a
> > name to hold a type other than the original type.
[...]
> Python *is* strongly typed.

That's debatable.  It depends on what definition of "strongly typed"
you are using, and Martin's usage was not incorrect.  There are,
unfortunately, lots of them:

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_typing

On Fri, Aug 01, 2008 at 11:23:31AM -0700, Carl Banks wrote:
> The strength of dynamic typing (Pythonistas prefer the terms dynamic
> vs static for what you describe, and use weak vs stong for something
> else) lies mostly in the freedom it gives you.

Pythonistas can be extremely irritating.  Some attributes I've
observed of (some of) them:

 - stubborn insistence on their own narrow definitions of terms, and
   complete refusal to accept that other definitions of those terms
   exist and are in common usage
 
 - stubborn refusal to accept that other terms exist which describe
   some facet of programming they prefer to call by their own Elite
   Pythonista name.

 - A fundamental lack of understanding that not everyone who posts
   here was born speaking Python

 - extreme impatience with anyone who does not immediately understand
   what they are saying

 - superior/condescending tone leveled at anyone who profers an
   opinion which differs with the Pythonista hive mind.

Is precision in terminology important?  Sure, especially when the
topic tends to be somewhat complex and/or abstract.  But words are
just words -- they have meaning that we impart to them, and there is
rarely only one to describe a particular concept.  There also is
rarely only one meaning for each word.  Computer Science has evolved
increasingly rapidly over the last 40 years or so, and along with it
so has its terminology.  Each computer language brings with it a
unique perspective on programming, and almost out of necessity its own
terminology to describe the philosophy behind its design.  THIS DOES
NOT RENDER WRONG OTHER TERMS OR USAGES.  It merely augments the
already rich natural language we have to describe what we do.

-- 
Derek D. Martin
http://www.pizzashack.org/
GPG Key ID: 0x81CFE75D

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