Hi all,

I found this discussion interesting:
  http://www.bogost.com/blog/computers_are_systems_not_lang.shtml

Ian Bogost starts off by arguing that learning a programming language
shouldn't meet a curricular requirement for learning a natural
language.  That's fair enough.

However he argues on the basis that computer languages are not
languages at all.  I don't get his argument, although may well be
missing something.  I tried commenting on the blog post but it hasn't
been approved, so I thought I'd look for answers with the fine members
of PPIG.

  "If we allow computer languages, we should allow recipes. Computer
codes are specialized algorithms. So are recipes."

This seems to be confusing utterances with languages.  Recipes are
written in e.g. English.  Computer programs are written in e.g. C.

  "the ability to translate natural languages doesn't really translate
(as it were) to computer languages"

It clearly does.  The point is made in the comments, that you can
translate between computer languages, either literally or
idiomatically.  You cannot easily translate from English to C, because
English is full of symbolic reference e.g. to the body and its
environment, the nuances of which are difficult to capture with
computer modelling.  But I contend that it is possible.

I also don't see how talking about a computer language as if it were
natural language a mixed metaphor, if anything isn't that just plain
metaphor?

>From the comments:
  "[programming code is] done IN language, but it ISN'T language"

You could say the same of poetry, surely?  I really don't understand
what is being got at here.  Poetry is done in language, but part of
the power is to reach beyond language in new directions.  Likewise
code is done in language, but you can define new languages within it.

But then I notice that it's the Cognitive Dimensions of *Notations*,
not of languages.  I had assumed that was because programming notation
includes not only language but other aspects such as secondary
notation, colour highlighting, editor features and so on.  But am I
wrong?  Am I missing the basis of a general understanding that
computer languages aren't really languages?  If so, I am ready to be
enlightened :)

Best wishes

alex

p.s. Is the PPIG meeting in Sheffield in April still going ahead?

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