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chungy

قلب

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قلب is a Lisp version entirely in Arabic. The guy made it as a kind of reaction to English being almost completely universal in computer science, even permeating nearly all programming languages (though, you might say Brainfuck and Whitespace are completely free of language bias :P). It's kind of jarring to get a feeling of what it must be like for people without English as their language to even try to program computers. I can't really figure out how to do anything :P

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It's an interesting idea, but I don't see a lot of people learning arabic to learn that. Like it or not, English is the de facto lingua franca, and will remain like that for a very long time.

I remember some time ago some people here were (and maybe still are) creating this kind of programs in Spanish (I think there's even one in Nahuatl), but they were never successful. I'm sure there's some very good reasons behind this, but there's one thing that I think is really important: the English language has no "official sanctioning authority", so people have a lot of freedom when it comes to inventing/fixing words. Oh, and in English words tend to be very short, at least when compared to Spanish.

Interesting as a "novelty", maybe even useful for people that speak Arabic but no English, but I can't see this being really relevant besides trying to make a point.

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Zed said:

Interesting as a "novelty", maybe even useful for people that speak Arabic but no English, but I can't see this being really relevant besides trying to make a point.


I think it is meant primarily to make a point, rather than as a useful tool. Otherwise it would probably be an implementation of a more C-like language, or a "beginner's language."

It does highlight the advantage that an English-speaker has over a non-English-speaker when programming, but I don't think this is specific to programming in general. For better or worse English has become the closest thing to a "global language," and for anyone looking to learn a language that allows them to communicate with more people in general (as opposed to a specific geographic region, culture, etc.), English seems to me to be the obvious choice.

Wikipedia has some interesting pages on related topics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_in_computing is a good start.

Ruby was developed in Japan, but the developers opted to use English words to reach a wider audience.

edit: I think the point of قلب is not so much about words as it is character sets. Programming keywords are just words that make something happen; however they're composed of symbols that an English-speaker (or French speaker, or someone who spoke a language with a similar alphabet) recognizes easily. Looking at the Arabic code example on the linked page, it takes me a while to even parse out what different characters are even though it appears to be a fixed-width font, and many of them look extremely similar to me. It wouldn't be much different from trying to code in Wingdings.

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Well, you can localize languages like C++ by using #define for keywords. API and keywords aside, C++ is just a computer-parsed math sequence. It's just unfortunate enough that it uses reserved words in English like "if", "else", "template", "while" without an option in the standard to localize them. And it's unlikely that the committee would waste time implementing that unless pressured by laws. But such laws wouldn't be enforced by USA. And anyway, I'd hate if I had to work in places like France, and even the source code language happened to be translated, complete with accents. Seriously people, get out of your national bubble :P Of course that was just a hypothetical scenario, not an experienced fact.

Is the thread title written as intended by the OP, or just the forum software failing to de-escape that?

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I think it's a pretty clever idea, especially for a language like Arabic wherein the entire alphabet is completely different from that of the English alphabet. Learning a programming language made up entirely of foreign words is tricky enough, but when the alphabet itself is different, that adds another level of challenge. And I mean, yeah, it doesn't really matter to the end product, and programming isn't the same as writing, but I admit, when I program, I almost feel like I'm actually speaking a sort of language - can't really explain, but it feels like I'm crafting sentences and paragraphs when I program, that's how I always visualize it.

Heh, you know if someone designed a programming language in Hebrew, I might just give it a try. I took Hebrew in college, and it'd be kind of a fun new way to look at programming for me.

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printz said:

Is the thread title written as intended by the OP, or just the forum software failing to de-escape that?


I think it's the latter: after googling the title, it automatically shows results in Arabic. But I'm just guessing here.

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geekmarine said:

Heh, you know if someone designed a programming language in Hebrew, I might just give it a try. I took Hebrew in college, and it'd be kind of a fun new way to look at programming for me.


http://hpl.sourceforge.net/ ? Just found by Googling, haven't tried it myself -- not that I could do anything with it anyhow.

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Good old Logo used to have translated versions, since it was used to teach grammar school kids about computers until the 80s. For example in the French version you wouldn't tell the turtle "forward, left, right"; you'd tell it "avance, gauche, droite".

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geekmarine said:

I think it's a pretty clever idea, especially for a language like Arabic wherein the entire alphabet is completely different from that of the English alphabet. Learning a programming language made up entirely of foreign words is tricky enough, but when the alphabet itself is different, that adds another level of challenge.

I think this is the main thing. I could probably reasonably pick up a programming language that centered around another Latin alphabet language, say Spanish or French, without knowing them. Even without knowledge of the language itself, I know how to type it. On the other hand, not knowing Arabic and not using the same/similar alphabet it has anywhere else completely throws me off -- I can switch my keyboard layout easily enough, but I don't even know how to type a character if I wanted to!

But yes, overall, this isn't any serious attempt to make a new systems language out of Arabic, it's just a simple Lisp REPL. It's fun and cool, and I think 100% appropriate for both nodding to Arabic-speaking people and enlightening English speakers in computer science to just how it feels like when that's not your primary language.

geekmarine said:

Heh, you know if someone designed a programming language in Hebrew, I might just give it a try. I took Hebrew in college, and it'd be kind of a fun new way to look at programming for me.

Sounds like the ultimate challenge. Translate قلب into Hebrew even though you don't know Arabic. (Wild guess: the language probably doesn't have THAT many keywords, you can probably figure it out without really knowing the language.)

printz said:

Is the thread title written as intended by the OP, or just the forum software failing to de-escape that?

I pasted in the normal Arabic characters (UTF-8, of course) into the Thread Title field, vBulletin doesn't like it much. I'd ask to fix it, if possible, but it seems oddly fitting, in the same vein that the guy that made that programming language kept "---" as the name on GitHub, even though it was a stupid software error that shouldn't exist. :)

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The author made a forking joke on his page. I think we should call his employer alerting them he's continuing to make the software industry a hostile place for women.

Also, I'm happy for Sweden. Now have it's own domestic Lisp.

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chungy said:

Sounds like the ultimate challenge. Translate قلب into Hebrew even though you don't know Arabic. (Wild guess: the language probably doesn't have THAT many keywords, you can probably figure it out without really knowing the language.)

Actually, Hebrew and Arabic are related languages. I mean, knowing one doesn't mean you'll instantly be able to understand the other, but it's kinda like how the Romance languages all have a lot in common in terms of structure and having similar words and such. Of course, their written languages use completely different alphabets, and I don't know the Arabic alphabet, so I couldn't even begin to attempt to mess with written Arabic.

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FWIW, a popular urban legend in Greece states that ancient Greek is the "only language directly understood by computers" and that "big companies like Microsoft, Apple and NASA [sic]" are using it for their next-gen supercomputers.

chungy said:

(though, you might say Brainfuck and Whitespace are completely free of language bias :P)


So is binary/hexadecimal.

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