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English computer languages / Italian music notation

"Seth Gordon" <sethg@ropine.com> writes:

> help me fill in the blanks on this story

That comes from Kent Pitman.  The full story is part of his interview:

I thought it interesting how he tied it into lambda/car/cdr:

Pertinent quote:

     Now, as to why it's called LAMBDA and not FUNCTION, that's just a 
    piece of history. You get used to it. Toward that end, I'll offer a 
          story that will perhaps help you put it in perspective:   

     Early in my not-yet career as a computer scientist, which is to   
     say, while I was in high school, I lived in the Panama Canal Zone.
     Computers were not at all common there at the time. In fact, the
     place being entirely run by the US Government, there was some weird
     edict that said no one was allowed to own one so that they would
     all be centralized in the Comptroller's Office and not wasted in
     individual offices around the Zone. Our school had to bend the   
     rules in order to get us a computer to study. So one thing I did
     while trying to learn about computers was to go downtown (out of   
     the Canal Zone into Panama City, in the Republic of Panama) and   
     visit a company there who did computer work. Of course, people
     there spoke Spanish, but fortunately I did, too. They showed me
     some of their code, and I was immediately struck by the fact that
     all the language keywords were in English.

     "Doesn't that bother you?" I asked. But the person I was talking to
     was quite a thoughtful person and he immediately responded this
     way: "Do you know how to read music?" "A little," I said. "Have you
     seen the notations on music like forte, sotto voce, and so on?" I
     nodded. "Does it bother you that they are in Italian?" "No," I had
     to admit. His point was to make me see that it could be viewed as
     part of the charm and history of the notation. He was, perhaps,
     unusually forgiving. But this was in the late 1970s, when everyone
     who had access to computers was far too excited about just plain
     having them to care about subtle issues of whose culture got too   
     much say in the design of a world-wide phenomenon.

     So when today I look at the very few mysterious-looking terms like
     LAMBDA, CAR, and CDR that still linger untouched in modern Lisp's
    design, I think of them as I do those musical notations, conceptual
    links to a little piece of history that I'm just as happy not to see
       crushed by an overeager rush to regularize and homogenize the
   world--something the computer culture has done altogether too much of.

<brlewis@[(if (brl-related? message)    ; Bruce R. Lewis
              "users.sourceforge.net"   ; http://brl.sourceforge.net/