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> >> PS. I still like syntax "hello":sub(1, 4)

> I always wondered: is there a reason why this syntax is not supported?

Because to allow it in general would require unbounded lookahead.
Consider for instance:
	"x".."x".."x".."x".."x".."x".."x".."x".."x".."x".."x":sub(1, 4)

The current solution with parentheses solves this and is fully general.
It's probaly easy to allow just this syntax <string literal> : <function call>,
but not general enough.