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The Battle of the Languages

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As a computer science student, I can see English permeating to every nook and corner of my daily life.To read the textbooks, or read the available newspaper but more importantly the code I write, English is necessary.

One thing that is certainly bothering me is English the perfect language to write the all sorts of other programming languages we have built? What if French was used as an alternative? Why not German? Think of writing a C/C++/Java program in Italian.Sounds scary!How would that look like?

What are the features of English that makes it easy to write?

Firstly, the alphabets.The twenty-six alphabets present in English , I feel, gives it more weightage the rest of the languages if a competition would be held right away. Playing with the alphabets is really easy.Start with 2 letter in the word. If you feel that the space is lacking for your creative power,increase the number of words in your word , do some permutation, Viola! you have another word. Suppose we start with ‘xz’ and add three more letters f,d,t. We do some random permutation and we arrive at ‘xftdz’. We define a meaning that it stands for so and so. If we use it repeatedly, making it the trending word in Twitter, surely the lexicographers in Oxford would count that word in the probables for the debut word of 2011.

Second point:Structurally, English is not a difficult word to put on to the screen. Writing on screen a Latin alphabet is much easier an alphabet which uses Devanagari script.Additionally ,we don’t require those words such as PIÈCE which eulogizes the middle ‘e’ as in French. A simple PIECE would do it.

Overall, simplicity seems to go hand in hand with English.More than being a demanding master ,it is complying slave. I feel that unknowingly or knowingly ,we have selected the right language to write other programming languages.

Any thoughts?

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  1. March 6, 2011 at 05:23

    I agree that English permeates into the corners of many people’s lives – especially in the electronic world, but I think that any language could be used for computing instead of English.

    To look at one of your points, English only has 26 letters, some languages have more than that. More available letters = more permutations are available.

    On your second point, all languages are slaves if you think that it is people who use them as they wish. In computing, it is humans that write programmes and decide how they work.

    Personally, as a native English speaker I am happy that English is so widely used. It makes my life much easier sometimes. However, we shouldn’t forget that other languages are also important. In fact all languages are important to those who speak them as a mother tongue.

    • March 6, 2011 at 16:25

      I agree with your point.
      My intention was to tell that if someone wants to do programming and he has two choices :English and some other language. In that case, I think that English is an better option. Instead of thinking more about English, he could concentrate more on the problem at hand as it is easy to learn the English alphabets.
      It was written from a problem-oriented perspective rather than with an intention to disrespect any other language.

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