Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

How to configure Ubuntu's keyboard to work like a Mac's

Typing accents on a PC is a complicated Alt + three numbered code affair. One feels like a sorcerer casting a spell. "I summon thee accented é! I press the weird magical key Alt, and with 0191 get the flipped question mark!" For a bilingual person this meant that writing on the computer was a start-and-stop process. With Mac's it a whole lot easier, just Alt + e and the letter you wanted for accents and alt + ? for the question mark. No need to leave the keyboard for the number pad and no need to remember arcane number combinations or have a paper cheat sheet next to the keyboard, as I've seen in virtually every secretaries computer in Puerto Rico.

Linux has a interesting approach to foreign language characters: using a compose key. You hit this key which I typically map to Caps Lock and ' and the letter you want and voilá you get the accent. Kinda makes sense: single quotation mark is an accent, double gets you the ümalaut, works pretty well. Except for the ñ, wh…

Contrasting Styles of Writing: English vs. Spanish

There is interestingly enough a big difference between what's considered good writing in Spanish and English. V.S. Naipul winner of the 2001 Nobel prize for literature publish an article on writing. In it he emphasizes the use of short clear sentences and encourages the lack of adjectives and adverbs. Essentially he pushes the writer to abandon florid language and master spartan communication. This is a desired feature of English prose, where short clipped sentences are the norm and seamlessly flow into a paragraph. In English prose the paragraph is the unit the writer cares about the most.

This is not the case in Spanish where whole short stories (I'm thinking this was Gabriel Garcia Marquez but maybe it was Cortázar) are written in one sentence. Something so difficult to do in English that the expert translator could best manage to encapsulate the tale in two sentences. The florid language is what is considered good writing in Spanish but unfortunately this has lead to what …

Fixing Autocomplete in Github's Atom Text Editor for Ruby

I really like Github's Atom Text Editor. I really like that it's multi-platform allowing me to master one set of skills that is transferable to all platforms and all machines. 

On thing that just burns me of the default set-up in Atom is the Autocomplete feature that seems to change my words as a type them. Because Ruby uses the end of line as a terminus for a statement you usually finish a word with pressing the return button and you get really annoying changes to your finished typed word a la MS Word. I find myself yelling "No that's not what I wrote!" at the screen in busy coffee shops.

I disabled autocomplete for a while but it is a very useful function. Then I found out they changed the package that gave the autocomplete to a new one called "Autocomplete Plus" that gives you more options. All that I needed to change to make autocomplete sane again:

1. Open Atom's Preferences
2. Search the bundled packages for "Autocomplete Plus"

3. Go to t…