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Discussion on: Which mainstream programming language has the ugliest syntax?

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chainq profile image
Károly Balogh

I strongly disagree, with the Pascal remark, but I'm a Pascal lover, so I'm probably biased the other way. I'd say := vs. = is much better and a lot less error prone and ugly than = vs. == let alone === in some languages.

Also := was not even a Pascal invention, but much older. It comes from ALGOL actually, IIRC.

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MetaDave 🇪🇺

And there was me thinking it was from ADA ... it's like archaeology, this, just stripping layers away.

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Ryan Haber

Historical linguistics is a real discipline in natural languages. I love the analogies between natural languages and computer languages.

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MetaDave 🇪🇺

Yes, and there's definitely a "thing" with code quality being correlated to natural readability too.

I come from an ORACLE background originally, and it would drive me insane to see people uppercasing their SQL, like it was an act of kindness to the compiler, and us humans have to suck up the inconvenience. I used to send people photos of major highway direction signs and ask "WHY DO YOU THINK WE DO NOT PUT INFORMATION THAT HAS TO BE QUICKLY ABSORBED IN UPPER CASE? Which do you find easier to read?".

I was also once instructed that all text in a BI system's reports should be in fixed pitch uppercase – got out of it by showing how wide that made every text-heavy report.

TL;DR; People are sometimes quite dumb.

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Ryan Haber

All very fair points. I never minded Pascal as a language. Just that assignment operator.

I had forgotten it came from ALGOL.

But you agree PHP is hideous?

:D

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Károly Balogh

I believe there's worse than PHP, but that alone doesn't make any PHP better for sure. :)

BTW, I always think about replacing : with be and = with equal in my mind when reading Pascal code. So a:=1; is let a be equal 1. Same works with colon elsewhere, for example type definitions like var x: integer; can be read as let var x be integer; ... It makes the whole syntax quite readable for me.

But I'm not a native English speaker, so sorry if this just makes it even worse. :P

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Ryan Haber

No, it's a nice thought. It does work, as far as I can remember. Maybe it's what Pascal's creators were thinking.

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Mihail Malo

=== and !== look rad in Fira Code