----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David C. Oshel" <dcoshel / mac.com>
To: "ruby-talk ML" <ruby-talk / ruby-lang.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2003 10:49 AM


> Sorry if this is old hat to most of you, but I just discovered these 
> side-by-side ruby and perl scripts from the new Japanese-language _Ruby 
> for Perl Users_ book mentioned by maki at ruby-lang.org/ja/ a couple of 
> weeks ago (5/14).

That's fascinating! I wish we had an English translation
of this book...
 
> They are suitable for perusal by the linguistically feeble, such as 
> myself:

I'm pretty feeble in Perl myself. I'll hang onto 
this link.

> "Language shapes the way we think and determines what we can think 
> about." -- Benjamin Lee Whorf  [N.B.: The opinion expressed belongs to 
> its source, and is not at all that of the management.  The management 
> is a devotee of Noam Chomsky's Universal Base Hypothesis, which states 
> that language evolved in the brains and vocal accoutrements of apes, 
> who possessed advanced skills of perception, perhaps driven by leopard 
> predation and territorial songfests, long before the advent of 
> language.  Whorf is merely indulging in magical thinking.]

Ha... tagline with a disclaimer. Cool.

OT: Perhaps Whorf and Chomsky could both be right. Perhaps there
is a kind of feedback loop in the evolution of language and of
human thought. Whorf has his flaws; I'll be the first to admit
that. But I always liked him for his highly analytical thinking,
his original ideas, his creativity, his enthusiasm, and his way
with words. And I liked him because of the novelty of a chemical
engineer who is a dilettante in linguistics, to the point that
he is almost remembered as a real linguist.

Even more OT: Whorf in a sense played a joke on the world. People
in the humanities and such are always trying to bring physics (etc.) 
into their own fields of literature and social studies and such, 
drawing wild conclusions and meaningless generalizations from 
Goedel's theorem, relativity, and quantum mechanics. Whorf in a real 
sense did it backwards. He dragged real physics into the more 
subjective field of linguistics (in his comments on the Hopi language) 
and almost got away with it. At least he was more credible than my 
literature professor who tried to apply the Uncertainty Principle to 
20th century literature.

And as for magical thinking: Ha. You say that like it's a bad thing. ;)


Cheers,
Hal

[Those who respond, if any, to the OT part should do it offlist. I have
been criticized once or twice for my rambling.]