[Haskell-cafe] Re: ANN: AC-Vector, AC-Colour and AC-EasyRaster-GTK

Jon Fairbairn jon.fairbairn at cl.cam.ac.uk
Sat Jul 11 06:02:40 EDT 2009

Wolfgang Jeltsch <g9ks157k at acme.softbase.org> writes:

> Am Freitag, 10. Juli 2009 05:26 schrieb roconnor at theorem.ca:
>> I find it amazing that you independently chose to spell colour with a `u'.
>> It makes me feel better about my choice.
> I have to admit that it makes me unhappy. :-( 
> Why do we use English for identifiers? Because English is the language
> of computer science. What English should we use? It’s tempting to say,
> we should use the original English, which is British English. But we
> should ask again what is the language of computer science. And the
> language of computer science is American English.

I don't buy that. And don't forget India.

> To my knowledge, most early developments in computer science had their roots 
> in the US.

Really? Manchester Mark I, EDSAC I, EDSAC II? Alan Turing, David
Wheeler, Maurice Wilkes? To mention a random selection of early ones
(leaving aside Konrad Zuse and colleagues and various Russian pioneers
on account of not speaking English).

> One consequence of this is that reserved words of programming 
> languages are typically in American English. PASCAL uses “program”,

The use of "program" rather than "programme" in programming was mandated
by the IFIP in what I regard as an attempt to act outwith their remit.
I've never accepted it.

> not “programme”, and BASIC uses “COLOR”, not “COLOUR”.

I'm not sure I would use BASIC as an authority for any aspect of
programming language design. Going back to the early developments
aspect, a high proportion of early work in functional programming was
done in Britain and elsewhere in Europe (at a time when Europeans
typically preferred British spellings), so perhaps one should recognise
that in choosing identifiers.

But anyway, where's the harm in a bit of variety? If someone who prefers
British spellings originates a package, why get het up about it if they
use them in identifiers? I have to put up with American spellings all
over the place, so a few British spellings might even up the balance a

Jón Fairbairn (British, but with a tendency to identify myself as

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