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Re: Why "color"

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 12:02:50 -0600
Message-ID: <dd0fbad0902191002r45d8acf0q43d5929aae749e3c@mail.gmail.com>
To: Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk>
Cc: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>, Adam Twardoch <list.adam@twardoch.com>, Philip TAYLOR <Philip-and-LeKhanh@royal-tunbridge-wells.org>, www-style@w3.org
On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 11:38 AM, Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk> wrote:
> Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
>
> [...]
>
>> As much as humanly/technically possible, we of course want to support
>> the diversity of languages on our planet.  But in some cases it is
>> advantageous *to the speakers of non-English languages* to purposely
>> ignore their language, and use the dominant one (English, currently).
>> Programming language tokens are one such area.
>
> All of your points are well made (as were those of David Singer),
> but I would want to comment on your last paragraph (above) :
> it may be advantageous to non-native speakers of English to
> [...] use English /at this time/, but unless we seriously discuss
> (without resort to sarcasm) how this Anglo-centric bias can
> be eliminated, all we are doing is continuing to perpetuate
> what I regard as a highly undesirable state of affairs.

The problem is that it's only an Anglo-centric bias by accident
(English speakers invented programming languages), but *some* kind of
bias is both inevitable and desirable, for the reason I gave in my
email.  We simply don't *want* a computer language to use wildly
different identifiers for the exact same concepts, because it
splinters the possible community of help/examples/sample code one can
use.

I mean, if Iceland had become the world's Silicon Valley in the
1980's, we'd all be programming in Fjölnir[1].  I have no idea what
the various language tokens actually mean, but I can decipher the
programs, and could get along just fine in the language, assuming we
had English tutorials for it.  I would *prefer* an English-based
programming language, certainly, but the benefit of being able to use
all the Fjölnir code lying around on the web would be large enough for
me to not care that much.

The situation would be slightly different if it was a language more
significantly removed from the latin script, like Farsi or Korean.  In
that case, I doubt I could use the programming language without first
gaining at least a passing familiarity with the host language, at
least enough to intuitively distinguish between the characters.  Of
course, whatever language it was would *be* the language of the web
like English is in the real world, so I'd likely be in a situation
that many people across the world are in - I would learn and speak
English at home, but I'd learn the other language to communicate in
the global marketplace.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fj%C3%B6lnir_(programming_language)

~TJ
Received on Thursday, 19 February 2009 18:03:47 GMT

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