Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coding In English

Programming nowadays occurs predominantly in English. Why is this?

I hadn't really given this question very much thought, but I came across a blog that argues that programming languages transcend regular cultural boundaries. I suppose this is true in a lot of senses.

The programming community tends to be a bunch of people who are adept at learning languages (in the programming sense) and probably view having to learn a new language (in the regular sense) as a way to gain access to more tools and resources. Since the vast majority of documentation and existing code right now is in English, there is a lot of inertia and it's easier for people to learn English than to hope for some (often poorly) translated version of the English documents and code.

Additionally, the current common programming languages fundamentally tend to use English keywords and such so programmers already have to learn a few words here and there in English.

I don't think anybody really planned things to happen this way, but it's just a case of pragmatism. Programmers tend to think about what's most efficient and practical a lot, so English is probably gonna stay as the de facto programming language for a while.

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