Subject: Re: Will Java kill Lisp?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1997/08/22
Newsgroups: comp.lang.scheme,comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Farshad Nayeri
| In many cases, syntax is an excuse. I am not trying to discount the
| syntax issue, but consider the following:
|   - either people want to use a language, and they live 
|     with the syntax. Come on: how about Perl, HTML, C++?!
|   - or people don't want to use a language, and use the "S
|     word" as an excuse.

I have wondered why the arcane syntaxes are more likely to survive than
simple syntaxes.  I believe it is because people struggle with them and
discuss them more with others when they master them.  I mean, you get a
certain aura of "guru" if you can answer a question on Perl syntax
immediately, or you can spot an operator precedence problem i C++, or
notice pointers being one level too shallow or deep and such irrelevancies.
you don't get much credit for remembering the syntax of `do' or `let' or
figuring out that lots of output get squeezed into the right margin because
of the value of *print-right-margin* -- it's more like you feel stupid if
you don't.  you _can_ get the same kind of awe from other programmers for
writing working `format' control strings right off the bat, but then this
is even frowned upon in Lisp circles.  when readability is highly valued,
the readership falls.  if it looks complex, it must be hard, right?  so
people get a sense of personal satisfaction from mastering the apparently
complex, even though it is semantically quite trivial.

| Most good programmers I know can pick up new syntax in a matter of days
| ...  For most programming, I'd personally think twice before hiring
| someone who wouldn't be able to adjust to a new syntax.

it's not the syntaxes that people can't read that bothers me.  it's the
syntaxes they invent when they need a new mini-language that makes me cry.

man who cooks while hacking eats food that has died twice.