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Re: [XP] Should programs be written in English?

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  • Kim Gräsman
    Hello Will, ... I m not sure it s enough reason to avoid it, but it seems to me all projects I ve been on that have used non-English names seem to attract a
    Message 1 of 31 , Feb 29, 2008
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      Hello Will,

      On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:45 PM, wpqstott <will.stott@...> wrote:
      > I'm doing some work on development best practices and would like to
      > hear people's views about using english names to things like classes,
      > methods, parameters, variables, etc. Should this practice be
      > encouraged, or is it a form of cultural imperialism?
      >
      > [Spanish snipped]
      >
      > It's really a question about effective communication and primarily
      > addressed to developers whose first language isn't English. Clearly,
      > such developers would probably create more expressive names in their
      > own language, but what are the disadvantages? What other advantages
      > do you see for writing code in your own mother tongue?

      I'm not sure it's enough reason to avoid it, but it seems to me all
      projects I've been on that have used non-English names seem to attract
      a native English-speaker who can't contribute as easily because he
      doesn't understand [Danish, Swedish, Spanish].

      I've built and maintained codebases that use the above-mentioned
      languages, and my only reflection is personal: it's not pleasing to
      the eye.

      - Reserved words in the language are usually in English
      - Libraries, standard or third-party, are usually in English
      - Interfaces they require you to implement will be in English

      For most of the systems I've been involved in (far from domain-driven
      and no use of Ubiquitous Language), the majority of code was actually
      in English, but with a couple of specks of the other languages added
      on. It just made it even harder to follow.

      Then again, one of the systems was for insurance in Denmark, and I
      wouldn't have wanted to put in the time to find relevant English terms
      for Danish tax terminology; "Paragraf 41", "Indskud", "Skatteklasse".
      We used those terms as-were.

      I have a tendency to just make up English names corresponding roughly
      to the local name, and a problem with that is that expressiveness of
      my naming is severely limited by my knowledge of English.

      I like to think most Swedes understand English fairly well, but many
      of us also think we can speak and write English without any loss of
      fidelity. I've witnessed that to be false on several occasions.

      So... I prefer English, but I realize that I can't really handle it.
      Maybe it would be good to dictate English code AND a native-speaking
      English customer? :)

      - Kim
    • David Peterson
      Even if you choose to go with English, then there s the question of which English to use? There are flavours and flavors. In Java, my preference is to use
      Message 31 of 31 , Mar 3 12:38 PM
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        Even if you choose to go with English, then there's the question of which
        English to use? There are flavours and flavors.

        In Java, my preference is to use American English (even though I'm British)
        for consistency with the API.

        I recently worked on a project where a guy with British nationalist leanings
        had created a "Serialisable" interface that extended "java.io.Serializable"
        and continually referred to "HTTP Cookies" as "HTTP Biscuits". :-)

        David
        ---
        http://blog.davidpeterson.co.uk



        On 01/03/2008, Kim Gräsman <kim.grasman@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello Will,
        >
        > On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:45 PM, wpqstott <will.stott@...<will.stott%40acm.org>>
        > wrote:
        > > I'm doing some work on development best practices and would like to
        > > hear people's views about using english names to things like classes,
        > > methods, parameters, variables, etc. Should this practice be
        > > encouraged, or is it a form of cultural imperialism?
        > >
        > > [Spanish snipped]
        > >
        > > It's really a question about effective communication and primarily
        > > addressed to developers whose first language isn't English. Clearly,
        > > such developers would probably create more expressive names in their
        > > own language, but what are the disadvantages? What other advantages
        > > do you see for writing code in your own mother tongue?
        >
        > I'm not sure it's enough reason to avoid it, but it seems to me all
        > projects I've been on that have used non-English names seem to attract
        > a native English-speaker who can't contribute as easily because he
        > doesn't understand [Danish, Swedish, Spanish].
        >
        > I've built and maintained codebases that use the above-mentioned
        > languages, and my only reflection is personal: it's not pleasing to
        > the eye.
        >
        > - Reserved words in the language are usually in English
        > - Libraries, standard or third-party, are usually in English
        > - Interfaces they require you to implement will be in English
        >
        > For most of the systems I've been involved in (far from domain-driven
        > and no use of Ubiquitous Language), the majority of code was actually
        > in English, but with a couple of specks of the other languages added
        > on. It just made it even harder to follow.
        >
        > Then again, one of the systems was for insurance in Denmark, and I
        > wouldn't have wanted to put in the time to find relevant English terms
        > for Danish tax terminology; "Paragraf 41", "Indskud", "Skatteklasse".
        > We used those terms as-were.
        >
        > I have a tendency to just make up English names corresponding roughly
        > to the local name, and a problem with that is that expressiveness of
        > my naming is severely limited by my knowledge of English.
        >
        > I like to think most Swedes understand English fairly well, but many
        > of us also think we can speak and write English without any loss of
        > fidelity. I've witnessed that to be false on several occasions.
        >
        > So... I prefer English, but I realize that I can't really handle it.
        > Maybe it would be good to dictate English code AND a native-speaking
        > English customer? :)
        >
        > - Kim
        >
        >


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