Subject: Re: What should S-expression based languages be called? (was: Re: Why is Scheme not a Lisp?) From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 23:40:39 GMT Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Erann Gat | I don't care if someone says "Clyde is an elephant" or "Clyde is a member | of the pachyderm family of animals" (except insofar as the latter seems | unnecessarily pedantic to me). Is this intended to be anywhere close to what we are discussing here? Do you _really_ not undestand what we are discussing, or is this just more of your obnoxiousness? How about "Scheme is an elephant"? Does the fact that this is meaningful tell you something about the English langauge? | Likewise, "Scheme is a member of the Lisp family of languages" is to me | simply a wordier version of "Scheme is a Lisp." Nonetheless, I accept | that you choose to distinguish between them, and I'll try to respect that | distinction. Then, in the service of civility and reduced hostility, why not use the least offensive phrase when they are equivalent to you, but not to those who disagree with you? Your continued refusal to get the point must mean that obonxiousness is the _purpose_ of sticking to "is a Lisp". | Since you agree that Scheme is a member of the Lisp family of languages | it seems that what the historical disagreement is really about is whether | the word "Lisp" means "the Lisp family of languages" or "Common Lisp" (as | opposed to, say, whether the schema "X is a member of the class of Y" is | less offensive than "X is a Y"). Is that right? Perhaps you may, in time, figure out that words do not just have denotations and definitions, but also connotations and context-dependent meaning, that expressions have more than one value, that what we do not say is frequently as important as what we do say. In _isolation_ "Lisp" is the family of languages, to those who know that "the Lisp family" exists in the first place. To those who do not, "X is a Lisp and Y is a Lisp" means that X and Y have something in common, that knowing one makes it possible to predict something about the other. This is not true of the interesting parts of Common Lisp and Scheme. By de-emphasing this connotation, and emphasizing the "familiy" property of the name "Lisp", you do in fact communicate something that novices can use and learn something from, instead of just confusing them with misguided beliefs. Those who do know both languages, know that they and their communities differ enormously, and far more so than they are interestingly similar. American may not care much which of the Scandnavian counrties I come from, or which of the three official (make that four unofficial) Norwegian languages I speak, or which of the several and mutually unintelligible dialects of these languages I favor, but summing it all up in "Norwegian" is pretty accurate from 3000 miles away. Over here, people ask me whether I actually say "sprog" and not "språk" and whether I say "benfri stek" instead of "beinfri steik" and some react with hostility because of this, which they believe is the language of the upper class, which is officially abolished in Norwegian political mythology, only because the illiterate mob use more diphthongs than the literate. /// -- In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none. In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.