Brian Rogoff wrote:
> In Wirth's opinion, and the opinion of many reputable linguists like
> Steven Pinker, the analogy betweem formal notations :-) and human
> languages is bogus. "Spoken" is the key point to consider.
I'm only about a third of the way through Pinker's book (The Language
Instinct?), but I haven't picked this up at all. Language is the structure
upon which one hangs meaning. If one is careful to keep separate the concept
of meaning from the concept of language structure, and if one acknowledges
that humans have an ability to perceive and invent novel structure that
computers don't have (hence the greater need for formalism when dealing with
computers), then I don't think it would be a lie to say that there is no
*qalitative* difference between human languages and programming languages.
(But those are of course very big qualifications.)
And as for Logajan's original post about subject/verb/object structure
being more natural, the other thing I've gotten out of Pinker's book is
that human languages can and do have an extremely wide variety of structures,
and that what is 'natural' about human languages is not any particular
structure, but the aforementioned ability to perceive and invent structure.
To put it simply, what I've gotten out of the book so far is that the biggest
difference between spoken languages and programming languages is that the
former are a *lot* more interesting. (Unfortunately, the latter pays better.)
Obligatory Ousterhout slam: The argument I hate the most from people is "X
is better than Y because more people use X than Y." This argument is
particularly infuriating when it comes from people like Ousterhout and
Stroustrup and Gates because they are clearly content to perpetuate people's
ignorance of superior alternatives, thus protecting their trump-card argument.
(Not that it's their job to inform people of superior alternatives.)
One more note: Erik Naggum keeps writing stuff that I agree with, but in a
way that I wish I didn't.