Teaching Python

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info
Wed Apr 20 06:17:15 EDT 2011

On Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:06:27 +1000, Ben Finney wrote:

> Dan Stromberg <drsalists at gmail.com> writes:
>> On Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 4:03 PM, geremy condra <debatem1 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> > When you say 'hacking', you mean.... ?
>> Presumably he meant the real meaning of the word, not what the press
>> made up and ran with.
> To be fair, the press already had its own pejorative meaning of “hack”
> before the engineering and computing term, so the association was
> probably inevitable.

It's hardly just the press. "Hack" is a fine old English word:

"The jungle explorer hacked at the undergrowth with his machete."

"I was so hungry, I didn't take the time to neatly slice up the meat, but 
just hacked off a chunk and stuffed it in my mouth."

"Good lord, have you seen the completely botched job that carpenter has 
done? He's such a hack!"

Given the wide range of pejorative meanings of "hack" going back at least 
to the 19th century (to cut roughly without skill, a mediocre and 
talentless writer, a person engaged to perform unskilled and boring 
labour, a broken-down old horse, etc.), what's remarkable is that anyone 
decided to start use "hack" in a non-pejorative sense.


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