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- Subject: Re: Syntactic sugar for sets
- From: Gavin Wraith <gavin@...>
- Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 10:42:59 GMT
In message <003401c87795$6374a380$2a5dea80$@email@example.com> you wrote:
> And I find it very frustrating that every time someone suggests an
> improvement to the language the response is loads of elaborate schemes for
> doing it within the existing language or through patching and extending
> frameworks that have learning curves way out of proportion to the achievable
> gains. I would not mind if it *also* got taken seriously as an improvement
> to the language, and of course 'taking it seriously' includes rejecting it
> (with reasons). It seems that such suggestions just sit in the archives to
> be re-discovered by someone else a few years down the line.
It is far harder to remove an addition that is regretted in the light
of further experience, than to have patience.
> Making languages successful in the real world is all about the law of
> association, about critical mass.
Real world? I wonder what that could mean. What counts as success? Do
you mean number of users, or do you have other criteria? What "law of
association" - excuse my ignorance. "Critical mass" usually refers to
the conditions necessary for an explosion.
> There's a reason why we're all speaking English here! If you fragment
> a language into lots of little sub-dialects it will never achieve that
> mass and will be overtaken by other, probably inferior, languages.
There are rather a lot of reasons why so many people speak English
(see "Empires of the Word" by Nicholas Ostler
) but I think they are irrelevant to Lua. English has always been
fragmented into lots of little sub-dialects; the phenomenon of a
standard English is fairly recent, and I doubt whether that has been
much of a factor in the uptake of the language. However programming
languages are very different from vernacular languages. The fact that we
use the same word "language" should not lead us to stretch a metaphor.
> Of course I could use Lua as a toolkit and make a language that worked
> exactly like I wanted, but for a language to be useful, other people
> need to speak it too!
That depends on the uses you have in mind.
> And of course you could strip all the syntax sugar out of Lua, but then it
> would be a very inexpressive and limited language of interest only to
I do not follow the reasoning here. Syntactic sugar is, by definition,
redundant - it gains you no greater expressiveness. It may have other
qualities which could make it worthwhile - brevity, a redundancy useful
for catching errors, and so forth. But removing it cannot decrease a
language's expressiveness - convenience, maybe? I am not sure why
academics would be the only people interested. Why not those programmers
and software engineers who happen not to be academics as well?
Gavin Wraith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Home page: http://www.wra1th.plus.com/