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[Haskell-cafe] Re: Allowing hyphens in identifiers

Subject: [Haskell-cafe] Re: Allowing hyphens in identifiers
From: Jon Fairbairn
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 11:04:21 +0000
Daniel Fischer <[email protected]> writes:

> Am Dienstag 15 Dezember 2009 03:04:43 schrieb Richard O'Keefe:
>> On Dec 14, 2009, at 5:11 PM, Daniel Fischer wrote:
>> > 1. I wasn't playing in the under_score vs. camelCase game, just
>> > proposing a possible
>> > reason why the camelCase may have been chosen for Haskell's standard
>> > libraries.
>> But the insanely abbreviated example did not provide such a reason.
> Of course not. But if you expand it - and it's not difficult,
> even when insanely abbreviated -, the resulting sentence gives
> a possible reason: "Maybe it's because the underscore style is
> considered far uglier and less readable by others." If the
> early Haskellers felt that way, isn't it perfectly natural
> that they chose the camelCase style?

As one of the early Haskellers, I definitely preferred
underscores, because my intuition told me that it was closer in
appearance to normal English text, and my belief was that even
programmers read more English than code. Unfortunately I'm not a
very persuasive person, and couldn't argue my case (beyond
having underscores /permitted/). The problem is that once people
have spent some time using one style or other, their ability to
self-analyse their reading of it becomes negligible. "Ugly" and
"less readable" become synonymous with "not the style I'm used
to", irrespective of actual effects on reading speed. And
introspection is a notoriously bad method of anyalysing
psychological factors in the first place.

This really should have been decided with proper experiments.

> Of course, they may have had entirely different reasons, or no
> concrete reason at all and it just happened.

In the absence of hard data, it only takes a slight bias in
exposure among members of the committee to tip a decision the
wrong way.

[1] and quite a high proportion of other natural languages.

JÃn Fairbairn                                 [email protected]

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