[Haskell-cafe] about Haskell code written to be "too smart"

Zachary Turner divisortheory at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 09:44:37 EDT 2009

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 10:32 PM, wren ng thornton <wren at freegeek.org>wrote:

> Both of these conclusions seem quite natural to me, even from before
> learning Haskell. It seems, therefore, that "naturality" is not the proper
> metric to discuss. It's oft overlooked, but the fact is that expressivity
> comes not from more formal power, but from _less_.
> * Natural language has a limited range of words and syntactic constructs,
> but gives the larger-enough building blocks to enable unconstrained
> communication; whereas a language with a unique word for every utterance
> (arguably simpler) is impossible to learn.

On the other hand, -certain- languages are more expressive than others.  As
an example, I personally find English far more expressive than both
Vietnamese and Japanese, yet English is far more complicated.  Japanese, for
example, has exactly 1 pronunciation for each "alphabet letter".  Hence
you'll never find words in English like "lead" and "lead", where the first
means to guide someone or something, or to give direction, and the second is
a chemical element.  Words that are spelled the same in Japanese are
pronounced the same 100% of the time.  Furthermore, I find that you are far
more limited in your choices of how to form ideas into sentences.  In
English there might be 20 different ways to phrase the exact same sentence
for use in a certain context, where the sentences end up being almost
identical with the exception of 1 or 2 words changed or shuffled around.  In
Japanese there would probably be far fewer.  In Vietnamese there's a similar
problem, in that there are not very many synonyms at all, and NO
conjugations.  It is complicated by the fact that it's a tonal language, but
on the other hand the tonality independent of the expressivity in my
experience.  Similar to Chinese, although I can't speak for the expressivity
of Chinese I would not be surprised at all if written Chinese was extremely
expressive, but spoken not so much.

Anyway the point of all this is that in English you have more freedom and
more power, and hence you use (abuse?) the syntax of the language to create
words, sentences, and phrases that express very powerful things.
Furthermore, they are things that almost all English speakers would be able
to grasp the full meaning of what you've said.
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