perl [was: in defense of Java, again]

Jonathan Ellis jonathan at
Fri Jan 27 07:38:51 MST 2006

On Fri, 27 Jan 2006 01:40:51 -0700, "Shane Hathaway"
<shane at> said
> While I also prefer Python, putting down Perl programmers is 
> counterproductive.

When I was young I started out programming in Turbo Pascal.  My high
school actually had a Usenet feed back then, 1990-ish.  I bridled at
the posts I'd occasionally see along the lines of, "Pascal is an okay
teaching language, but it's a poor substitute for C when you need to
get things done."  Eventually, years later, I found out they were
right.  I also began to understand that even for someone passionate
about programming, it's possible to not take it personally when
someone points out shortcomings in your primary language.

Which is the long way of saying, I hope the the distinction between
"putting down Perl" and "putting down Perl programmers" is not lost

I'm just tired of the whole "as long as a language is Turing complete,
it doesn't matter what you use!" crap, expressed sometimes (as I
mentioned) as "but you can write spaghetti code in any language!"

Look, if a language is known primarily for being prone to degenerate
into spaghetti if everyone isn't very careful, something's wrong,
and when the best apology is pointing out that you can write bad Lisp 
or Python or Smalltalk if you really _try_, well, I think we all know
what that means even if some of us (obviously not me) are too polite
to say it. :)

> I actually think Perl has a really provocative philosophy. As I 
> understand it, Larry Wall is a linguist, and he has observed that spoken 
> languages evolve in strange ways, so why shouldn't programming languages 
> do the same?

Yes, it was an interesting experiment.  The problem is that the verdict
has been in for years now, and it is that "a computer language that
doesn't design for orthogonality doesn't lead to Code Poetry; it leads,
more often than not, to a mess."

But I realize this isn't really a programmer's list, so I'll shut up

C++ is history repeated as tragedy. Java is history repeated as farce.  --Scott McKay

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