Re: compiler for Chinese development language

"Oliver Wong" <owong@castortech.com>
19 Oct 2005 02:39:36 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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From: "Oliver Wong" <owong@castortech.com>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 19 Oct 2005 02:39:36 -0400
Organization: GlobeTrotter
References: 05-10-08505-10-096 05-10-107
Keywords: i18n

"Ganny" <sgganesh@gmail.com> wrote in message
>I do agree that you can provide all your identifiers with native
> characters (Unicode). But how about those who dont know English? the
> keywords such as "public" or "synchronized" can be obvious and taken
> for granted for those who know some English, but there are many
> (probably in millions in countries like China and India) who know only
> their native language.


        I live in Quebec, Canada and sometimes work with programmers who
don't know any English at all (they only speak French). They just seem
to memorize the semantics of the keywords "if", "then", "else", etc. I
guess in general, English and French are somewhat similar (moreso than
English and Chinese anyway), in that "public" can be translated as
"publique", but some keywords are pretty different ("if", "then",
"else" translates to "si", "alors", "si-non"). Just a minor
digression; this wasn't intended as a counter-argument to your point
or anything.


> Forget about programming, even using the computers itself is
> difficult. I am from India and inspite of all claims made of support
> for computing environments native/regional languages, I couldn't
> help my mother to help her learn using the basic things like sending
> e-mails or browsing.


        This might have nothing to do with regional locale support
though. I know many English speaking mothers who cannot send e-mail or
browse the Internet, even while using software intended for speakers
of the English language! Of course, it probably doesn't help when all
the buttons and menus are in an unfamiliar language. I remember when a
friend of mine asked me to fix her laptop. She was running a Japanese
copy of Windows XP, and what should have been an easy trip through the
Control Panel suddenly became an indecipherable nightmare.


Me: What does this say?
Her: Hiding of the files.
Me: What kind of files? Hidden files or system files?
Her: Hiding of the important files.
Me: Okay, must be system files. What does this say?
Her: Um... Something about processes.
Me: Launch each window in a seperate process?
Her: Yes! That's it!
Me: This one?
Her: Sharing is simplified.
etc.


> Ok, one basic question. Why is that the programming languages (like
> C++) have reserved keywords in English? Why not some other
> language/alternative?
>
> [Historically, modern software development started in the US and UK, where
> people speak English. At least as far back as the early 1960s there were
> versions of programming languages with the keywords other languages, but
> they never caught on. A compiler doesn't care of an "if" keyword is
> the two letters IF or SI or the Chinese equivalent, after all. -John]


        As John said, there's no technical reason why a programming
language couldn't be based off of some (natural) language other than
English. I think it's mainly a question of momentum. Nowadays if
someone invents a new programming language, (s)he's probably going to
want to publish it on the Internet, and the majority of the Internet
is in English, so it seems like if you want the largest userbase
possible, you're going to aim for English. Plus support for ASCII is
a lot more widespread than support for Unicode, so if you want to play
it safe, you'll stick with ASCII characters for your keywords.


        As an example of this, the Ruby programming language was invented by a
Japanese person. A lot of the documentation for it is written in Japanese,
but the keywords themselves are English.


        - Oliver


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