Subject: Re: Why is Scheme not a Lisp?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 21:03:47 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Doug Quale <>
| The Lisp family is a family of languages, not a single language.

  So _say_ "The language Scheme is a member of the Lisp language family"
  instead of saying "Scheme is a dialect of Lisp".  Emphasize language, not
  dialect.  Emphasize language family.  A standards-like document that is
  so lacking in precision does both its audience and its subject matter a

| "Scheme is a Lisp", or more fully "Scheme is a member of the lisp
| language family" emphasizes the substantial common ground in those four
| important areas with other members of the lisp family.

  It does not mean that because Common Lisp is most likely the only "Lisp"
  they will see, and your interpretation of "is a lisp" as "member of the
  Lisp language family" assumes facts not in evidence, namely that "Lisp"
  is a language family, as seen by those who read it.  Scheme is not a
  "dialect" of Common Lisp, and there are no other large _families_ of
  programming languages around that people talk about.  Pascal is not a
  member of the Algol family, although Delphi might be a dialect of Pascal,
  but there is no Pascal family of languages, of which Ada is a member.  So
  the notion of a language family cannot be assumed to exist in the readers
  and certainly not in students who go into the world and would like to
  study Common Lisp.

  Had you schmucks actually been able to achieve clarity of expression and
  thought and communicate your intent, which you have rewritten "Scheme is
  a Lisp" to mean, just _imagine_ how much less hostility would have
  ensued.  I repeat my suggestion: say "the language Scheme is a member of
  the Lisp language family" if that is what you mean, do not weasel out of
  your responsibility for the weak expression.

| An interesting comparison can be made with the Algol family of languages.
| This family includes Algol 60 as the founding member and has many members
| including Algol-W, PL/1, Pascal, C and Ada.  The Algol family includes
| members that are far more different that Common Lisp and Scheme.  No one
| would ever confuse Algol 60 and Ada, but they are members of the Algol
| family all the same.

  But who talks about the Algol family?  None.  Would a C programmer be
  anywhere close to comfortable with this classification?  No.

| Kent has argued rationally that Scheme is not a Lisp, but most people
| arguing in favor of that view have not been so dispassionate.  The
| interesting thing is that for some Common Lisp users, the question of
| whether Scheme is a Lisp is a religious one rather than a technical one.

  It is a feeble-minded, stupid, inflammatory way to say "Scheme is a
  member of the Lisp family" if that is what you read it to mean "more

| I can't even imagine that level of emotion in a discussion between Pascal
| and C partisans about the common cultural and historical origins of their
| languages, although they can disagree very heatedly about the relative
| merits of their chosen languages.

  But nobody says "C is an Algol".

| (By way of contrast, I think from a Scheme or Common Lisp point of view,
| many might say the differences between Pascal and C aren't very
| important.)

  Then try answering a C question with a Pascal answer in comp.lang.c.
  Suggest that somebody who wants to learn C "begin with Pascal", or offer
  people who do not like feature X of C or just have a problem using it, to
  use Pascal, instead.  This is what the annoying Scheme freaks do in
  comp.lang.lisp.  Also, people do not discuss Ada in comp.lang.algol.

| Despite what some Scheme haters in c.l.l say, I think very few Scheme
| users have any strong intellectual or emotional investment in this
| question.

  Every single person who has ever answered a Common Lisp question with a
  Scheme answer has at least at that time had serious emotional investment
  in a competition between Scheme and Common Lisp.

| I think the initial inquiry was prompted more by a desire to understand
| the venom displayed towards Scheme in c.l.l than a need to prove
| anything.

  There is no venom towards Scheme per se.  There is venom towards all the
  obnoxious, persistent Scheme crap in comp.lang.lisp.  If you spend your
  time on a date talking about computers, chances are you will bore your
  date to death and not score.  Computer science did not get dissed, but
  your choice of topic to talk about in that setting did.  So, too, with
  all the irrelevant Scheme crap in comp.lang.lisp.

| "Why do they hate us?" has gained a lot of attention recently in areas
| much more important than computer programming languages.

  Reasonbly intelligent people manage to figure out the difference between
  "why do they hate what we do" and "why do they hate us".  If Scheme
  freaks could please figure out that when somebody has a problem in Common
  Lisp, answering with a Scheme solution is bad form, and simply refrain
  from being such obnoxious retards, there would be no "hatred" at all.
  People who are told to shut up and go away, but do neither are not hated
  for their _person_, they are hated for their obnoxious behavior.

  When you accuse people of hating you because of your behavior, you have
  actually attacked him in an inexcusable way.  Some people never figure
  out that false accusation trip people and can seriously piss them off,
  but feel free to accuse others of things they do not like simply because
  _they_ do not like the person.  I consider such behavior to be clear
  evidence of a very serious coping problem.

| As a final thought, it's quite funny that someone can say that Common
| Lisp is a lisp-2 and Scheme is a lisp-1, and then in the next breath say
| Scheme is not a Lisp.

  Context, dude.

  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.