[erlang-questions] A proposal for Unicode variable and atom names in Erlang.

Ulf Wiger <>
Mon Oct 22 16:11:34 CEST 2012

On 22 Oct 2012, at 15:49, Michael Richter wrote:

> Indeed I can't help but notice that all the people arguing for the status quo benefit from the status quote because they're either:
> native English speakers; or
I'm not, and I believe very few who have commented so far are.

> people who've already expended the wholly unnecessary effort to learn English just so they could do their real job.

Wholly unnecessary? This can only possibly be true for people whose native language is big enough that there can be sufficient volumes of high-quality literature about programming and Computer Science.

In my own experience, studying Engineering in Sweden, so much of the course literature was in English that it would have been near-impossible to make it through without good English skills (of course, a fairly high grade in English is needed just to get in). So for me, the effort was in fact wholly necessary - mandatory, in fact, as English is not an elective in Swedish schools.

So it seems I fit in neither of your two categories. ;-)

> Frankly neither has much standing with me when expressing opinions on language.
> The people who do have standing?  They're people like the Chinese hackers or Japanese hackers or Korean hackers or Indian hackers you never hear from because they speak to each other instead of you.

That's a valid point, and although my point was that openness and code sharing should be top priorities for a language like Erlang, I have personally been influential in getting things added to Erlang/OTP that were primarily (or even exclusively) of interest in proprietary settings. The examples that come to mind are the 'sensitive' process flag and encrypted debug_info in beam files.

To further clarify, I'm not necessarily opposed to the suggestion, but am neither entirely convinced that being able to use non-English variable names is that much help (although I'm open to being convinced otherwise). Supporting unicode encoding and comments in foreign languages, surely, and this is also where it really helps to be able to write in a language that you're comfortable in.

Ulf W

Ulf Wiger, Co-founder & Developer Advocate, Feuerlabs Inc.

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