Is Lisp syntax unnatural? (Ilan CARON)
25 Nov 91 03:59:50 GMT

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Current work in compiler/language design. hackeron@Athena.MIT.EDU (Harris L. Gilliam - MIT Project Athena) (1991-11-10)
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Is Lisp syntax unnatural? (1991-11-25)
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Ilan CARON)
Keywords: Lisp, design
Organization: Microsoft Corp.
References: 91-11-030 91-11-081
Date: 25 Nov 91 03:59:50 GMT

In article 91-11-081 (Bob Hathaway) writes:
>Natural syntax : if a plus b times c equals zero ...
>Typical syntax : if a + b * c == 0 then ...
>Unnatural syntax : (if (== (+ a (* b d)) 0 ) ... )
>Like this syntax or not it is not natural, most people
>do expressions infix.

But it's regular and predictable -- even humans like that sometimes (not
just compilers)!

Most people (unless they're using Forth) use prefix notation anyway for
everything but infix algebraic operators that their language happens to
know about. I.e. we're all very comfortable with functional syntax (for

Even though I use C++ exclusively now, I'm hard pressed to make the case
that it has a natural syntax. Certainly e.g. "," is abused, not to
mention "::" (which is both a binary infix operator and a unary prefix

--ilan caron (

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