An assessment of the Unicode standard

Greg Ewing greg.ewing at canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Sep 20 08:33:47 CEST 2009


Hendrik van Rooyen wrote:

> Yikes!  If I follow you, it is a bit like having a hollow dumb-bell with a 
> hollow handle of zero length, and wanting a word for that opening between the 
> knobs.

That's pretty much it, yes. Although "opening" doesn't
quite cut it, because there can be two of them sharing
an edge with no physical substance in between, yet
they are two distinct entities rather than a single
opening.

> I do not think that you are likely to find a word in *any* language 
> for that

Probably not in any everyday language, no. It's a fairly
abstract concept. But programming has a way of taking
abstract concepts and turning them into concrete ones.
I had this object in my data structure, and I needed a
name for it.

In any case, it doesn't affect my point, which was that
I was thinking about something that I didn't have a word,
or even a convenient phrase for.

> That is probably true, but on the other hand, it is not totally rubbish 
> either, as it is hard to think of stuff you have never heard of, whether you 
> have an undefined word for it or not.

I quite agree that there is *some* interaction between
the language we use and the way we think, but it's a
two-way process. As a species, we're quite capable of
thinking about new things and inventing words to express
them when the need arises.

It's possible that some individuals do this more
frequently than others, e.g. mathematicians and other
people who are in the habit of exploring new ideas may
be less influenced by the constraints of language
than the general population.

-- 
Greg



More information about the Python-list mailing list