Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Programming and language

Most folks that aren't programmers think programming is either really hard, or really easy. In truth it is both.

Programming is just language. If you speak a second language, like French or Spanish, then you know what it takes to learn another language. Programming is just language. You type out a set of instructions to the computer. That's it.

The tricky part is that it is a very picky language, and computers do not understand typos or bad grammar very well. So in order to be a good programmer, you have to really understand your language. Similar to if you want to write published papers you need to be pretty good at English.

Many programmers only learn a few languages, because that's all they need. Similarly, if you are only dealing with people in the Americas', you probably only need to know English French and Spanish. But there are those people that know 13 different spoken languages, the linguists out there. Well some of us are like that, and know more programming languages than we care to count. There are also those that study and create and read ancient spoken languages, there are also programmers that are like that.

Luckily, programming languages are much smaller than spoken languages. Much fewer ways to say things. Also, usually you are talking about very concrete topics, like math and science, and not fuzzy topics like emotions. Also, you can try running your code and see if the computer says "I don't understand". The only real problem comes up when you word something wrong and the computer thinks you mean something else.

So programming is only as hard as you want it to be. Learn a little, or learn a lot. There is always more languages to be learned, and if you run out, you can invent some new ones.