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This was *exactly* the article I had in mind when I mentioned this topic.
Thanks for posting it.  Great article BTW -- can you post a link?


> Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 13:17:03 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Guy Steele - Sun Microsystems Labs <Guy.Steele@Sun.COM>
>    Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 18:34:40 -0700
>    From: Michael Vanier <mvanier@cs.caltech.edu>
>    To: sk@cs.brown.edu
>    Cc: ll1-discuss@ai.mit.edu
>    Subject: Re: LFM + LFSP = LFE?
>    My understanding is that there have been a number of efforts over the years
>    to put a more "conventional" syntax on top of scheme or lisp.  Of course,
>    they don't get far because after a while, people prefer the s-expression
>    syntax (which is more powerful once you factor in macros etc.).  However,
>    this approach might be worth trying again.  Perhaps this would be one way
>    to give scheme the LFE-nature.  Does DrScheme have anything like this?
>    Parenthetically (pun intended), the guile scheme people did this a few
>    years ago but abandoned the effort.
> I can't resist quoting this snippet from
>   Steele, Guy L., Jr. and Gabriel, Richard P.  "The Evolution of Lisp."
>   In Bergin, Thomas J., Jr. and Gibson, Richard G., Jr. (eds.),
>   History of Programming Languages, ACM Press, New York, 1996, 233-330.
> on the subject of "conventional" syntax for Lisp:
>   The idea of introducing Algol-like syntax into Lisp keeps popping up
>   and has seldom failed to create enormous controversy between those who
>   find the universal use of S-expressions a technical advantage (and
>   don't mind the admitted relative clumsiness of S-expressions for
>   numerical expressions) and those who are certain that algebraic syntax
>   is more concise, more convenient, or even more "natural" (whatever
>   that may mean, considering that all these notations are artificial).
>   We conjecture that Algol-style syntax has not really caught on in the
>   Lisp community as a whole for two reasons.  First, there are not
>   enough special symbols to go around.  When your domain of discourse is
>   limited to numbers or characters, there are only so many operations of
>   interest, and it is not difficult to assign one special character to
>   each and be done with it.  But Lisp has a much richer domain of
>   discourse, and a Lisp programmer often approaches an application as
>   yet another exercise in language design; the style typically involves
>   designing new data structures and new functions to operate on
>   them---perhaps dozens or hundreds---and it's just too hard to invent
>   that many distinct symbols (though the APL community certainly has
>   tried).  Ultimately one must always fall back on a general function-call
>   notation; it's just that Lisp programmers don't wait until they fail.
>   Second, and perhaps more important, Algol-style syntax makes programs
>   look less like the data structures used to represent them.  In a
>   culture where the ability to manipulate representations of programs
>   is a central paradigm, a notation that distances the appearance of
>   a program from the appearance of its representation as data is not
>   likely to be warmly received (and this was, and is, one of the
>   principal objections to the inclusion of LOOP in Common Lisp).
>   On the other hand, precisely because Lisp makes it easy to play
>   with program representations, it is always easy for the novice to
>   experiment with alternative notations.  Therefore we expect future
>   generations of Lisp programmers to continue to reinvent Algol-style
>   syntax for Lisp, over and over and over again, and we are equally
>   confident that they will continue, after an initial period of
>   infatuation, to reject it.  (Perhaps this process should be regarded
>   as a rite of passage for Lisp hackers.)
> --Guy Steele