[Haskell-cafe] Re: Allowing hyphens in identifiers

John D. Earle JohnDEarle at cox.net
Thu Dec 10 05:46:49 EST 2009

To Underscore or Not to Underscore

Richard O'Keefe and I were privately discussing the relative merits of his 
and my approach. We have come to an agreement. It concerns whether or not 
hyphens should be replaced with underscores. The following is my response to 
his most recent letter:

I do not believe your approach given what you wrote here will create the 
sort of ambiguity I feared could be introduced. If an ambiguity results, it 
could be fixed. As I would put it, you hope to harmonize the word breaking 
styles by a process similar to though slightly more involved than what is 
done to remove case sensitivity in some languages. As layout is concerned 
only leading white space needs to be preserved. Anything else could be 
regarded as a superstition (not to say that computer scientists are 

What you hope to do is kill two birds with one stone. If the only goal is to 
run everything through a preprocessor my approach seems to make the greatest 
sense, but if you also hope to harmonize the representation of word breaking 
styles, then what you are advocating seems to make greater sense. Your 
approach seems more consistent with Haskell traditions than mine. Therefore, 
I concede. You have successfully argued your point. 

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