Larry Wall's "Irrationalities of Other Languages" - Fortune

Larry Wall's "Irrationalities of Other Languages"

Now, I'm not the only language designer with irrationalities. You can think of some languages to go with some of these things.

  • "We've got to start over from scratch" - Well, that's almost any academic language you find.
  • "English phrases" - Well that's Cobol. You know, cargo cult English. (laughter)
  • "Text processing doesn't matter much" - Fortran.
  • "Simple languages produce simple solutions" - C.
  • "If I wanted it fast, I'd write it in C" - That's almost a direct quote from the original awk page.
  • "I thought of a way to do it so it must be right" - That's obviously PHP. (laughter and applause)
  • "You can build anything with NAND gates" - Any language designed by an electrical engineer. (laughter)
  • "This is a very high level language, who cares about bits?" - The entire scope of fourth generation languages fell into this… problem.
  • "Users care about elegance" - A lot of languages from Europe tend to fall into this. You know, Eiffel.
  • "The specification is good enough" - Ada.
  • "Abstraction equals usability" - Scheme. Things like that.
  • "The common kernel should be as small as possible" - Forth.
  • "Let's make this easy for the computer" - Lisp. (laughter)
  • "Most programs are designed top-down" - Pascal. (laughter)
  • "Everything is a vector" - APL.
  • "Everything is an object" - Smalltalk and its children. (whispered:) Ruby. (laughter)
  • "Everything is a hypothesis" - Prolog. (laughter)
  • "Everything is a function" - Haskell. (laughter)
  • "Programmers should never have been given free will" - Obviously, Python. (laughter)

So my psychological conjecture is that normal people, if they perceive that a computer language is forcing them to learn theory, they won't like it. In other words, hide the fancy stuff. It can be there, just hide it.

Author Larry Wall
Work Present Continuous, Future Perfect