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From: (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Subject: Re: compiler for Chinese development language
Date: 20 Oct 2005 00:25:05 -0400
Message-ID: <05-10-142@comp.compilers>
Keywords: i18n

 Ganny <> wrote:
>Ok, one basic question. Why is that the programming languages (like
>C++) have reserved keywords in English? Why not some other

Well, the answer to "why" is obvious: because programming-language
design is heavily dominated by English speakers.  Even if the designer
is trying to address the non-English-speaking market, he runs into a
problem because that market is split into dozens of other
languages... and English is almost always the *second* language known
by potential users.

There is also a vicious circle here, because the primary audience for
a new programming language is existing programmers -- people who are
already accustomed to using programming languages with English
keywords.  Folks who have trouble with English keywords probably
aren't working as programmers, so their voices are not heard.

Some years ago, I got email from a man who was translating
"Recommended C Style and Coding Standards" into Thai; he wanted
permission to reprint my "Ten Commandments for C Programmers" as an
appendix.  I told him to go ahead, but warned him that it would be
difficult to translate: it's written in imitation archaic English and
some of the humor is subtle.  He told me that this wasn't a problem,
because he'd leave it in English -- he thought his audience would
understand it well enough!

(our moderator adds:)
>...At least as far back as the early 1960s there were
>versions of programming languages with the keywords other languages, but
>they never caught on...

I was told once that France was (then) the only country where the
dislike for English keywords was sufficient to justify language and
compiler variants with translated keywords.  I don't know if that is
still true.
-- is temporarily off the air;               |   Henry Spencer
mail to henry at instead.               |

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