[Haskell-cafe] about Haskell code written to be "too smart"
dev at mobileink.com
Wed Mar 25 11:40:47 EDT 2009
2009/3/25 Zachary Turner <divisortheory at gmail.com>:
> 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
Way off topic, but for what it's worth, you can take it as axiomatic
that all natural languages are equally expressive, qua languages.
They're also equally easy/hard overall. The areas of difficulty are
just in different places. Japanese grammar is extraordinarily simple,
but achieving mastery of the spoken language *in Japanese society* is
next to impossible, because usage reflects social constructions. As
you no doubt know, what is not said is sometimes just as expressive as
what is said in Japanese; very maddening to a logorrheic American,
just as an English speaker's need to explicitly articulate
*everything* is no doubt annoying to Japanese.
Regarding spelling and phonology: the idea that "one symbol, one
sound" is somehow optimal is the Myth That Will Not Die. None other
than Chomsky himself argued that English orthography is near-optimal
for the English language. All writing systems are designed to serve
speakers of the language, and many languages are poorly modeled by a
one symbol, one sound system.
I'm not sure there's a lesson there for formal language designers and
programmers, except maybe that the expressiveness (elegance?) of a
text usually depends to a great extent on the writer more than the
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