The Japanese Roots of Ruby (Ruby Program pt. 10)

Before starting to learn Ruby I had attempted to learn Python. They're very similar languages in terms of use, both dynamic, object-oriented, scripting languages.

I picked Ruby to learn because when I looked at the code it made sense to me. I didn't have to try to do a mental jump so high from the beginning. At first I could not see any Japanese influence on Ruby. Ruby was created by a Japanese guy and it's very popular in Japan, and I speak Japanese.

But now I'm beginning to see and suspect that it has a lot to do with the readability of the language. Let's contrast a simple statement in Python which is written by Europeans. Recently Python went through a mayor revision (which still hasn't completed) that broke backwards compatibility, because one of the main philosophies behind Python is having only one way to do things.

So in Python 2.6 you could say print "Hello World" now on Python 3 you have to say print( "Hello World"). The purpose of this was to simplify the syntax since all method calls except print used the method(something) form. Now this is clearly a mathematical-driven syntax from f(), which to this day confuses me a little. To me this doesn't make things clearer. But it allows Python to have a verb-object relationship. The method does something on the contents of the parenthesis. For some people I'm sure this looks more like normal language, but to me this looks more like math than language.

On Ruby, where many ways of doing things are allowed, the equivalent command would be puts "Hello World" now you can write it another way too: "Hello World".puts. In fact you can chain commands like "Hello World".chop.puts. And that looks like typical Japanese syntax. You say what you're talking about and then what happens to it. Like "HERO"ga iimashita. (I said "Hello.")

I find this syntax much easier than the more obtuse mathematically driven syntax used in Python and other similar Western programming languages (C, Java). To me that fx(x) or "f" of  "x" syntax is nothing like normal language, unlike Ruby's which can be very much like the Japanese language. Even if you don't know Japanese, it's easier simply because it's more like natural language and less like math.
Comments

Mac OSX has a built-in Japanese Dictionary!


I had no idea till I read this blog. Just pull up the built-in Dictionary and go to the preferences and select it. Amazing!
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