[self-interest] Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and..

Toby Ovod-Everett toby at ovod-everett.org
Sun Aug 9 19:30:22 UTC 2009

On Fri, Aug 07, 2009 at 11:43:07AM -0700, Steve Dekorte wrote:
> Not all human languages are a tangle of special cases. Turkish, for  
> example, is completely phonetic and this allows children learning it  
> to become completely fluent years earlier. It also eliminates spelling  
> mistakes and significantly increases typing speeds (there is a reason  
> why stenotypes are phonetic).

Many languages have phonetic spelling systems - English seems to be a large
exception in that regard.  I suspect that Turkish spelling in the Latin-based
form is especially regular because it was developed rather recently (81 years

Funny that you mention Turkish, BTW, since it's the language I use when trying
to explain to people/system administrators/programmers that case insensitivity
is tricky.  Case insensitivity works well in English, but even something as
simple as capitalizing "windows" if you're on a Turkish system can result in
problems.  Turkish has both a dotted-i and an undotted-i - the lower case
dotted-i upper cases into an upper case dotted-i (which is thus different from
the "normal" English upper case I) and the upper case undotted-i lower cases
into a undotted-i (which is thus different from the "normal" English lower
case i).  Thus on a Turkish system, upper casing "windows" may not result in
"WINDOWS".  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_dotted_and_dotless_I for
some more information.  ;)

> > The latter is supposedly much cleaner, but notice that
> > many more people speak the former.
> English speakers also outnumber Turkish speakers, but I'd be highly  
> skeptical of the argument that the language features are the cause of  
> this difference.

True, but I doubt there are any perfectly regular human languages that weren't

> Btw, I've noticed a tendency for discussions of unnecessary complexity  
> vs. simplicity to ultimately devolve into the more human vs. less  
> human argument. But who is it who gets to define that which humans  
> should aspire to? Are gothic gargoyles on the sides of cathedrals  
> truly "more human" than the architecture Frank Lloyd Wright? Which  
> humanity do you want to belong to?

I'm not advocating that Perl is more beautiful than Self by any stretch of the
imagination.  But Perl does have a history of inclusion, a tendency to adopt
"ivory tower" concepts (closures being an obvious example, and I posit C::P as
another example), and in this respect it may resemble English - ugly, but an
expansive vocabulary enriched by the inclusion of many foreign works and
concepts (even if they are brutally mispronounced).

--Toby Ovod-Everett

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