Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 25th May 2012 14:55 UTC
General Unix James Hague: "But all the little bits of complexity, all those cases where indecision caused one option that probably wasn't even needed in the first place to be replaced by two options, all those bad choices that were never remedied for fear of someone somewhere having to change a line of code... They slowly accreted until it all got out of control, and we got comfortable with systems that were impossible to understand." Counterpoint by John Cook: "Some of the growth in complexity is understandable. It's a lot easier to maintain an orthogonal design when your software isn't being used. Software that gets used becomes less orthogonal and develops diagonal shortcuts." If there's ever been a system in dire need of a complete redesign, it's UNIX and its derivatives. A mess doesn't even begin to describe it (for those already frantically reaching for the comment button, note that this applies to other systems as well).
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Member since:

Like the English language, Unix is inconsistent, difficult to learn and impossible to master.

You do realize this describes every language, right? The only thing really unusual about English is its spelling.

Now that I think about it, this describes every non-trivial operating system too...

Reply Parent Score: 3

Hypnos Member since:

The human languages I know other than English (Japanese, Latin) are far more consistent and easy to learn than English -- uniform grammar, phonetic spellings, etc.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Zifre Member since:

Nope, sorry. Just because you want something to be true doesn't make it true.

There is really nothing very out of the ordinary in the grammar of English (except for the usual selection of oddities that you can find in every natural language). I'm not sure how you can say it's any less "uniform" than Latin or Japanese. It's also far easier to learn than Latin or Japanese for people of most linguistic backgrounds due to its analytic/isolating nature. Latin wins on phonetic spelling, but English and Japanese are pretty comparable in terms of wackiness of the writing system.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Neolander Member since:

The human languages I know other than English (Japanese, Latin) are far more consistent and easy to learn than English -- uniform grammar, phonetic spellings, etc.

As a French person who has dealt with English, German, Swedish and Japanese in the past, I tend to disagree with you on this one. Of those, English is probably the easiest to learn, and by a fair amount.

That is noticeably because you English persons have been smart enough to deal away with most of the cruft that curses German and French. Common noun genders, abysmally complex verb conjugation, dozens of article cases and declinations, stupid amount of diphthongs, and other WTF rules that serve no other purpose than adding complexity such as mandatory noun capitalization or context-sensitive past participle terminations... Basically, the English grammar, although not perfect, is nice enough than it lets us foreigners focus on the challenging task of learning your vocabulary in which all common words seem to have at least two meanings, which in my opinion should be the goal of every language.

Modern Swedish tries to get rid of the cruft as well, but it has not went as far as English in some areas such as articles, and more noticeably has a much more complex pronunciation (particularly due to the strong difference between short and long vowels, and them fiendish sk and sj). Japanese is as nice as English from a grammatical point of view (easier in some areas, harder in others) and easier to pronounce, and I'd say that oral Japanese is overall a truly nice language, but then they ruin it by having a writing system that feels completely decorrelated from the oral language, effectively requiring one to learn vocabulary twice.

Edited 2012-05-26 08:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 7