Re: Definable operators (Gene Wirchenko)
22 May 1997 22:21:13 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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From: (Gene Wirchenko)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 22 May 1997 22:21:13 -0400
Organization: Compilers Central
References: 97-03-037 97-03-076 97-03-112 97-03-115 97-03-141 97-03-162 97-03-184 97-04-027 97-04-095 97-04-113 97-04-130 97-04-164 97-05-053 97-05-119
Keywords: syntax, design, comment

Craig Burley <> wrote:


>I'm in favor of much of that, but until we all agree that a language
>that allows
> a = b + c /* whether a semicolon follows or not ;-) */
>to be redefined such that b or c can be modified, a be referenced
>before its modified, and so on is thus _worse_ as a _language_, and
>that any code that actually performs such redefinitions is "wrong on
>the face of it", we won't have achieved much. The people who claim
>the above _could_ mean "concatenate the strings in b and c and store
>the result in a" makes anything we do with such a lexicon useless --
>because they feel they should be perfectly able (and congratulated
>for) redefining existing, widely understood symbols and names to mean
>new things simply for their convenience. Thus, they don't even bother
>to ask form, much less demand, a language that gives them a _natural_
>way to express what they want (concatenation), since they're already
>patting themselves on the back for figuring out all the intricacies of
>overloading enough to accomplish what they want using Someone Else's

          No, not congratulated for. We find it so natural that we just
use it in the, to us, natural manner that it is implemented and so we
initially don't understand what you are fussing over. When I was
first introduced to string concatenation with "+", I found it
perfectly natural. When I was first introduced to "*" for
multiplication, I had more trouble (very little).

          Get off your high horse about "+" for string concatenation! I
understand it isn't natural to you. You have made your point. It is
natural to me and I am starting to resent that you figure you can
browbeat me or anyone else about something that is an opinion. Your
opinion of what is natural is an OPINION, not an objective fact. My
opinion is the same, BUT I KNOW IT.

          Perhaps you would care to argue which is The One True Programming
Language or the One True Natural Language?

          BTW, by your opinion, the latter can't be English. English
overloads plus to use it for string concatentation. If I say "Good
morning." plus "How are you today?", then I've said "Good morning.
How are you today?".

          Since English does this so-called Evil Thing, perhaps you should
stop using it?



Gene Wirchenko
[I don't think the question here is naturalness, it's consistency.
Arithmetic addition is commutative, string concatenation isn't. But
I do wish that Kemeny and Kurtz had picked a different concatenation
operator than + so we could have avoided this whole argument. -John]

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