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Perl is Yiddish

posted by gnat on 2002.06.20 11:05   Printer-friendly
gnat writes ""Perl is Yiddish" draws an amusing parallel between Yiddish and our favourite programming language."
I'm sure the linguists will have conniptions. The pressing question is, of course: what are Java, C#, Python, and ML?
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  • by Yoz (2457) on 2002.06.20 16:14 (#9826) Homepage
    Shortly after I wrote that piece I did a Google for perl+yiddish and found this [mit.edu], which predates me by at least two years, and was written by a far more talented Perl hacker [mit.edu] than myself.
    On that quotes page there's also a great Larry quote which I think is relevant: "I asked for a camel for various right-brain reasons, not the least of which is that camels are ugly and have an attitude."

    I also found a more practical relationship between Perl and Yiddish here [uky.edu].
  • Yiddish (Score:5, Interesting)

    it's mainly German, that much is obvious, but the vocab is heavily twisted and most of the grammatical rules have been abandoned.

    Ah yes, the old "Yiddish has no grammar" meme, recycled yet again. It's nonsense, of course. Yiddish is just another point on the HighGerman<->Dutch dialect continuum. As far as I can tell, there's little that's inherently interesting about Yiddish; it's merely that many people associate it with cosy things, like nice old people. Associations are important, but they're still just associations. I don't see anything particularly innovative in Yiddish except for having more Hebrew and Slavic loanwords than the current "national standard" dialect of German does. But if cross-family loans are what are interesting, then Romanian is far more "interesting" by that criterion.

    The relationship of Perl to its parent languages involves more innovation than I see in Yiddish to its parent dialects of German. I think a better simile is that Perl is to its parent language(s) and Haitian is to its parent language(s) -- a lexicon of mostly French words but with highly altered phonetics and phonology, a grosso modo French-like syntax, but with some fundamental changes to basic syntactic categories and constructions (tense, aspect, clause, interrogation, definite articles, etc.) along lines that are possibly African, and definitely unlike anything in any other European language.

    • It's not nonsence at all. Syntax of our language closely resembles Slavic languages, wich means much more freedom in the word order. This is why some Germans say that "Yiddish has no grammar", but for my Russian students (I'm teaching Yiddish in Russian) the grammar is usually quite clear and already familiar. A Polish girl at the Columbia University Yiddish program said once that "Yiddish is just like Polish", while a Dutch student, a fluent German speaker, couldn't understand "this crazy syntax". Nothing
  • Yiddish links (Score:3, Informative)

    Here are a few links some can find interesting:

    • The Mendele [trincoll.edu] forum for Yiddish Literature and Yiddish Language.
    • Here is an article that mention some of Isaac Bashevis Singer arguments about Yiddish and litterature [judaism.com]