Subject: Re: Ancient Times (Was: Re: introduction to Lisp...)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 12:40:32 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Rahul Jain
| Did people actually use underscores as word separators back then?  I
| thought the underscore was a very rare character to have before ASCII was
| in nearly universal use.

  The underscore is quite young.  The character in that position in ASCII and
  its precursors has a long history, but generally, _ was a back-arrow and
  ^ was an up-arrow.  _ has come to replace blank, which many have rendered
  as an underscore with very short vertical bars on each side.  Primitive
  syntax descriptions have a serious problem with whitespace, so they claim
  that a-b is three tokens, a_b one.  This arbitrariness is frustrating to
  people who know better.  OfCoursePeopleWhoWriteLikeThisDoNotSeeTheProblem.

| Or is this just an attempt to make the C programmers taking the class
| feel better?

  It is probably a feebleminded attempt to learn real syntaxes in stages,
  slow adaptability or something.  I mean, no textbooks on Lisp or Scheme
  or any other sufficiently similar language uses _ in identifiers, so this
  is an independent creation of the student who is unable to observe what
  others are doing.  Generally, I consider poor indentation and _ in symbol
  names a clear sign that the requestor is more lost that I would consider
  it in my interest to try to rectify.

  But more generally, space should be a valid character in identifiers, and
  with ISO 8859 and Unicode, it can be: just use the non-breaking-space.  I
  think this really _rules_ for extra super-high readability.

  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.

  Post with compassion: