Number of languages known [was Re: Python is readable] - somewhat OT

Devin Jeanpierre jeanpierreda at
Fri Mar 30 01:21:34 CEST 2012

On Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 4:33 PM, Chris Angelico <rosuav at> wrote:
> Of course it's POSSIBLE. You can write everything in Ook if you want
> to. But any attempt to merge all programming languages into one will
> either:

In that particular quote, I was saying that the reason that you
claimed we can't merge languages was not a correct reason. You are now
moving the goalposts, in that you've decided to abandon your original
point. Also you are now discussing the merger of all programming
languages, whereas I meant to talk about pairs of programming
languages. e.g. such as SQL and Python.

Merging all programming languages is ridiculous. Even merging two,
Haskell and C, is impossible without running into massive
world-bending problems. (Yes, these problems are interesting, but no,
they can't be solved without running into your "issue 1" -- this is in
fact a proven theorem.)

> 1) Allow different parts of a program to be written in different
> subsets of this universal language, which just means that you've
> renamed all the languages but kept their distinctions (so a programmer
> still has to learn all of them); or

Yes. I mentioned this. It is not entirely useless (if you're going to
use the other language _anyway_, like SQL or regexps, might as well
have it be checked at compile-time same as your outer code), but in a
broad sense it's a terrible idea.

Also, programmers would have to learn things regardless. You can't
avoid this, that's what happens when you add features. The goal in
integrating two languages is, well, integration, not reducing

> 2) Shoehorn every task into one language, equivalent to knowing only
> one language and using that for everything. Good luck with that.

This isn't true for the "merge just two languages" case, which is what
I meant to talk about.

> The debate keeps on coming up, but it's not just political decisions
> that maintain language diversity.

Are you disagreeing with me, or somebody else? I never said that.

Yes, I said that in some cases, e.g. SQL/Python, because there are no
technical issues, it must be something political or stylistic. I
wasn't saying that the only reason we don't merge languages in is
political. As a matter of fact, the very next paragraph begins with
"There _are_ times when this is technical".

("political" is a bad word for it, because it covers things that are
just plain bad ideas (but, subjectively). For example, there's nothing
technically challenging about adding an operator that wipes the user's
home directory.)

-- Devin

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