Dear #Lisp @lisp
Someone made a nice programming language using literary Chinese. I was hoping to someday make a Scheme which does this. Please tell me:
甲. Can this easily be made more Lispian easily and how would I do so?
乙. I wanted such a language to use the old staff numbers (stick calculation in squares, came before abacus, now in Unicode) and “Suzhou” numerals in an organic way. Any thoughts how to do that?
丙. It looks weird to read left to right and is ugly. How to make text TtB,RtL?
Why it is important to have a Chinese based programming language:
Many years ago, I realized that the spare grammar and formalism in Literary Chinese would be well adaptable to programming. Moreover, in some ways poetic forms have algorithmic dimensions. There is a wealth of possibility for novel concepts to be developed using traditional Chinese maths, too. #WYLang makes programming more accessible for people who read ZH-Lit. And there are heaps!
All Chinese text should use full byte spaces and monospace. Especially in code. Why? Traditional poetry, text, song, etc. generates resonances across lines. When properly arranged, these resonances or rhymes or contrasts are highlighted and made glorious.
If you don’t believe me, walk around any Chinatown and look at the couplets posted around doors for New Years 春聯 next week.
Balance, harmony, meaning beyond the prosaic. This can and should be part of code to make it more legible.
@emacsomancer Sigh, yes, I recall I think you and I went down the rabbit hole for TtB regarding terminals and it is definitely a hairy problem. I don’t see why an editor can’t just print that way. I’ll have to get my brain together and dive into that with some discipline, make some lil notepad editor print that way by default and just ignore the issues with LtR language sets.
Honestly I’m jolly tired of reading LtR and then going to paper for proper TtB. It is jarring and messes up poetry.
@emacsomancer Rather! Haha. Frankly... I always feel like a lil kids diving into this stuff, eager but overwhelmed. It’s a big cookie to swallow, but I shall keep nibbling at it and annoying my sempais like you who can point the way.
There is always the fake TtB route. There are some apps for iOS which either squeeze lines down to one space and use XML &c to arrange them RTL or simply reformat txt by algorithm. Both are kind of cheating, but simpler to implement.
@emacsomancer EMACS kind of skeery to me! But I suppose it is time. I shall try to learn some of it. And indents, lordy... Yes, that was a sheep shear. I think that could be faked with reinterpreting initial line full byte spaces, though. That is traditional anyway.
@emacsomancer I appreciate the longevity culture to Emacs, having forward compatibility and optimization on the level you all use it. I once heard a chap talk about how he watches videos in emacs and such, haha. But, yes, goodness the first few steps are forbidding. But you’re right. Time to do Emacs, haha. Anything I can stick with in my slow way and cut down on distraction is a good idea.
@emacsomancer Well, I tried to be a Vim fan, but mostly it makes me want to cry, and tell me if I’m wrong but it isn’t as extensible and malleable which is what I’m after. So I shall do the tutorial and hope can remember the commands eventually.
@emacsomancer Generally I prefer to learn standards for interoperability. The whole oldschool keybindings thing can get a bit obtuse, though. And I have trouble associating them sometimes, in a visual way. Many coders poopoo GUI, but it is cognitively friendly for some of us. So if Emacs let’s me make lil wingding /dingbat icons for things, more’s the better?
@emacsomancer And I do appreciate your help and insight. Heaps. But I try not to bother you with greenhorn issues if I can sort them out on my ownsie, natch!
@emacsomancer What was that concept again... Sheep sheering? Where you go off endlessly on a chain of research and fixits...
@emacsomancer Yes, it would have to do that towards the left, or perhaps paginate. I’m thinking each line could be defined as a text box, actually a slip of bamboo 竹簡. But that introduces a problem of word wrapping across each slip. Text clients must already do something like this for line numbering, which is a certain advantage for sorting and rearranging. Perhaps that function of editors is enough to leverage by clever 90 degree turns...
How often do you need to word wrap across a line break? My impression is that words longer than two units are excessively rare. Rather I'd prefer to line break at a valid word division if at all possible. I came across a nasty piece of (RtL) Chinese text yesterday, which had a fault I see more often than I like : a parenthesis as the first character on a line.
There are rules for traditional indentation and break, depending on which format, natch. I prefer to nest indent for headings. A multi-character word, phrase, 成語 or word before a dangling 。、，&c should be wrapped, natch.
@publius @emacsomancer This gets tricky, as you no doubt observe, in texts where there is ambiguous grammar and antiently no punctuation. Sometimes this *was intentional*, and it may be best to not punctuate. Sometimes each... bamboo slip has historically necessary value (a line of poetry per slip, but the slips get jumbled when the book strings rot). In such cases, these are kept regardless of pretty formatting, natch.
That said, as you also no doubt have seen, when pages are at a premium, such as if I were to print a programme out for paper storage, formatting matters not, so just jumble it all together. It’s still readable, and compiles. Many old books did this purely for expediency and paper saving.
@publius @emacsomancer I reckon what is almost never discussed in western scholarship that I’ve seen is how texts play in trad scribal life. Literary Chinese is meant to allow texts to be “compressed” and “uncompressed” by the hand of a scribe. It is very much a tradition, and part of the ancient written-mediated culture. A book will be compressed for storage and uncompressed for recitation, singing, reading, display, and especially gifting if possible.
@publius @emacsomancer So apropos the question, the answer is I dunno. At first I shall keep making it pretty in Java form, but probably ditch that and invert the indents as I’m wont to do. If I ever got good (haha), then I’d probably just write WY code in solid blocs per state and wrap at the bottom of the screen... 80 columns?
It's long been clear to me that this is how traditional Chinese works ― that an enormous meta-text of metaphors & allusions understood by the whole scholarly community is used to convey the greatest amount of meaning in the smallest amount of writing. There are incidents in popular literature such as the 水滸傳 which make no sense otherwise! But it seems to me that this makes simply learning to use the language for communication a big chunk of a life's work.
@publius @emacsomancer Still, you understand it better than many of the mouldier Sinologists. What I’m underscoring is that this richness was not just for scholars. That’s an understandable misconception by orientalists given with whom they palled around. But this lore is dialectic with spoken language via story, song, poetry, 成語 &c... Yes 文雅／民俗, but traditionally contexts interpenetrate even at popular lexical level. Regardless, the modality is (was, sigh) not hermetically stratified.
@publius @emacsomancer Trying to think of a good example, and... Heh, Water Margin is a good one. These novels were never high culture, natch. They were the junk paperbacks of their day. And they were based on oral stories and song. I know more about Journey to the west and it’s certainly true there; it was more compilation of folk tales rewritten as Buddhist polemic and propaganda (immortally well done, but still). The stew of references were all explicitly popular in direction.
Western culture has this ― "road to Damascus", "crossing the Rubicon", & like that encapsulate a great deal of meaning. But our modern educated class has discarded most of it because being in touch with your roots automatically means endorsing Imperialism, Patriarchy, & other forms of Crimethink. Or something! But not, I think, to the extent of classical Chinese, where a translation into the vernacular appears to expand the text by a factor of five.
I once saw a ZH-WY to ZH-ModVern analysis of the 大同篇 in which the author insisted that Confucius meant the opposite of what he wrote because he couldn’t understand it, haha. So he changed one character and shifted a comma. The cheek!
But it’s good to have punct. when skilled. I muddled through a chunk of Tacitus long ago, and was glad for it..
I like your monotonic Runes ladder, if I understand it, and shall ponder it. I’d like to see similar for 天干地支, the sexigeneray cycle, which can be deployed analytically beyond use as an ontological clock (which is most usual). I reckon it would be fab for circular polarization, for instance.
"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko