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JavaScript For the Rest of Us

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the error-messages-go-universal dept.

Programming 285

First time accepted submitter my2iu writes "The JavaScript programming language is both widely available and very powerful. Unfortunately, since only 6% of the world's population are native English speakers, the other 94% of the world are forced to learn English before they can start using JavaScript. Babylscript is an open source project that aims to translate JavaScript to all the world's languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. The project has recently completed its 12th translation, enough so that the native languages of over 50% of the world's population are now supported!"

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VBA? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697151)

Because having local-language versions worked out so well for VBA - and that isn't even on the internet.

Oh Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697163)

It's tough enough to debug code now that is written in english

Re:Oh Great (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697315)

Exactly. This is only good for making write-only code more prevalent.

Re:Oh Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697807)

I agree. Why don't they just dispense with the entire idea of debugging code in one fell swoop and program everything in APL?

And this is different...??? (5, Insightful)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697181)

How is this different than every other programming language I've ever encountered? And doesn't writing javascript in, say, Arabic, just make it inaccessible to 99% of the people who like look at your code?

Re:And this is different...??? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697411)

I'm pretty sure that, aside from its dependence on Latin characters(which is, all in all, a good thing, Unicode would probably allow it to achieve malign sentience), TECO has no basis whatsoever in any human language.

  QQ/10UT QH+QT+48UW QW-58"E 48UW %V ' QV"N QV^T ' QWUV QQ-(QT*10)UH >
  QV^T @^A/ /HKEX$$

Re:And this is different...??? (2)

littlebigbot (2493634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698019)

At least learning English is useful outside using JavaScript, whereas that is an exercise in masochism.

Re:And this is different...??? (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697465)

Quick question: What is more important?
1. Writing code
2. Being able to read code AFTER it has been written?

Sheesh... Most people in this world already face the problem you are talking about when they see everything written in English. And they are trying to fix it!

PS: Hopefully Slashdot fixes its commenting system. Months have passed since I posted anything and it is complaining that I have reused this form already!

Re:And this is different...??? (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697649)

Honestly, if you can deal with the character set, the names of the internals are irrelevant. You'll spend long enough learning their idiosyncrasies that you won't be able to help memorizing the tiny fraction of English you need to write and read code. Your biggest problem will be the documentation not the code itself.

Re:And this is different...??? (3, Interesting)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697497)

And doesn't writing javascript in, say, Arabic, just make it inaccessible to 99% of the people who like look at your code?

Yeah - it'll be interesting to find out what the LibreJS people think about it: []

Re:And this is different...??? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697755)

Yeah - it'll be interesting to find out what the LibreJS people think about it

Since LibreJS doesn't let you easily define your own version of Arabic, RMS will probably throw a hissy fit.

Re:And this is different...??? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697533)

They should be able to have a program "translate" JS!Arabic to JS!English with relative ease. You just parse the script, replacing Arabic keywords with English keywords (that's even how I suspect they're doing it). You could probably even have an interpreter that can mix several languages.

I actually had a similar idea myself, years and years ago. Never did anything with it, though, and my plan was for C, not Javascript.

Oh, and in any case, comments and filenames often *are* in other languages already. So there are already barriers between coders of different languages.

Re:And this is different...??? (5, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697643)

IIRC applescript had localized versions. There wasn't a problem in reading foreign scripts because keywords were translated (at one point keyword must be recognizable to the interpreter, that makes it relatively easy to translate them.

It is still not a good idea, of course. You need to copypaste a script from a blog and have it translated by the interpreter before understanding it.

And as a foreigner I can attest that the translation of keywords is a non-existent problem. Either you know the syntax of the whole command (parentheses, colons, semicolons, tabs, whatever) or you look it up. Once you have memorized it, could be english, your tongue, or LOLCODE, doesn't matter.

I'd possibly endorse localized versions of Logo and Smalltalk for basic teaching to kids. Everything else is overkill.

Re:And this is different...??? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697695)

How is this different than every other programming language I've ever encountered? And doesn't writing javascript in, say, Arabic, just make it inaccessible to 99% of the people who like look at your code?

That depends on whether it'll be 99% read by Arabs or not. There's several older code bases I've heard of here in Norway that's been written in Norwegian, simply because it was easier since it's our native language and you can use native terms the business side use in dealing with customers and they had no international ambition or plans to outsource. Well not the programming language, but the functions, the variables, the comments and so on. Changing the language itself would probably seem more natural, not less. That said I'd say the trend has been strongly the opposite, everybody wants their code base in English because otherwise it's impossible to use that code in an international setting. It's actually a much stronger pull towards using English as your code language than as your business language - and even that is pretty rampant in larger companies.

Re:And this is different...??? (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697971)

1. The keywords are localised, no other programming language I know have this capability.
2. Who cares? The point is not to give access of your source to others, it is to give easier access to the programming language itself to those who do not speak english.

I see this as an interesting idea. Why should I write "if" instead of "jos" (i.e. Finnish)? The latter is easier for Finns to understand and learn, especially if they are very young (or very old).

BTW, did you even read the article?

sounds like a bad idea (4, Interesting)

OleMoudi (624829) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697185)

Considering current situation with XSS prevalence, javascript obfuscation techniques and content filters bypassing, this will only make matters worse

Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697193)

Now everyone can write security holes.

Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (5, Insightful)

bool2 (1782642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697205)

Javascript keywords are English words but it's quite a leap to suggest you need to know English to learn Javascript! In fact, it might be an advantage to have the keywords as foreign words because they represent abstract concepts that ought to be considered apart from their real world meanings. IMHO.

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (5, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697391)

Exactly. I learned programming in France, at a time when there were some (rather bad) national programming languages like LSE where the words seemed too grounded and loaded with double meanings. Also there were several translated versions of Basic. Some commands were much longer to type, some others didn't translate directly and the equivalent was unintuitive at best, and finally you couldn't type listings found in programming magazines.

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697443)

Luckily, all human languages are isomorphic, so we can just draw up an unambiguous list of localized equivalents to each keyword, allow automated localization of javascript code without any possible ambiguity! What could possibly go wrong or undermine this glorious scheme?

(Other than comments, variable names, and the fact that languages are far from isomorphic?)

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697927)

You work at google, don't you?

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (0)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697523)

You're right to observe both that JavaScript keywords don't mean the same thing as natural language English words and that actually learning English is unnecessary. (Translated documentation is though.) But for English readers, they do help as mnemonics, and they probably do the same for at least Germanic and Romance language speakers. For Chinese speakers they're no help at all.

But imagine having 200 language shims in a browser so it can understand JSBasque correctly. This to benefit the 20 programmers who want to use it. For major languages like Spanish, Chinese and Arabic, such tools make sense as front ends for code development, but the code that gets distributed wil have to be run through a translation filter.

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (1)

dsvick (987919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697557)

I can see the advantage in having the keywords be in your native language, for the most part the keyword itself gives some indication of its function and makes it much easier to remember and look up than it would a word in a different language.

With that being said, I still think this is an incredibly bad idea. Right now you can go anywhere on the web and find help and code examples in English so that everyone who is using JavaScript can use them. With Babylscript you'll find examples and code in dozens of different languages so that no one can help anyone else. So now we really can all sit in our own little world and be oblivious to everything around us.

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697607)

I can see the advantage in having the keywords be in your native language, for the most part the keyword itself gives some indication of its function and makes it much easier to remember and look up than it would a word in a different language.

Or you just provide documentation in the native language of the programmer that explains what the English keyword means rather than translating the keyword and doing nothing but cause confusion between programmers of different native languages?

Re:Forced to learn English to learn Javascript?! (1)

dsvick (987919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697953)

That's true, and I agree it is the way to go instead of trying to translate the entire language. I was only saying it was easier, not necessarily better.

No (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697209)

The programming language is the language, not the english language. You need to learn keywords, they could be klingon, do not need to make any sense for you. On the other hand, documentations are usually written in english.

Oh non ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697211)

C'est pas vrai!

Oh noes! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697241)

I'm pretty sure translating the reserved words in a language is a TDWTF in the making.

Nonsense (3, Informative)

fragfoo (2018548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697245)

Someone pulled this idea out of his ass and thought it was a genius idea.

Terrible idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697267)

Now, I just have to trust that the script posted to some anonymous forum does what the poster says it does, because it's written in French? No thanks... this will kill casual use of the language in the long run.

Outrageous! (0)

Cyphase (907627) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697269)

As an English speaker, I find it outrageous that I might now have to deal with a language I don't know while coding JavaScript. This is going to restrict my use of third-party libraries. So unfair.

Language keywords with accents? (2)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697271)

I just took a look at the french translation:

charAt carÀ
    charCodeAt codeCarÀ
    indexOf indiceDe
    lastIndexOf dernierIndiceDe
    split fendre
    substring souschaîne

I foresee thousands of text encoding bugs appearing everywhere this is used.

Re:Language keywords with accents? (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697327)

Such as wondrous Slashdot which still sucks at Unicode...

Re:Language keywords with accents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697717)

Such as wondrous Slashdot which still sucks at Unicode...

no, unicode just sucks

Re:Language keywords with accents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40698047)

Ugh. That thing is ugly and need to die.

Diacritics are already a pain to type in regular text (i'm french, so I can't avoid it), putting these in a programming language is a very bad idea. I'm not even talking about code portability and understandability, since a lot of thing can't be translated and both keep their meaning and remain short.

I'd be happy if I could just use variable names... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697281)

function calls, classes, etc which use letters that are not in the English character set. :P No translation needed, just let me type them without getting spammed with syntax errors like happens in most programming languages. And for that matter, I'd be happy if I could even *type* a thorn here on Slashdot without having it magically disappear.

Re:I'd be happy if I could just use variable names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697993)

You can!

Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697303)

Why do they always only mention "native" speakers of a language. They do realize that in total numbers, English is the most widely spoken language on earth (yes, even more than mandarin! By a wide margin). And English is also the unofficial language of STEM at large as well as international business. When I worked at Ericsson, though it's a Swedish company, and only a very small number of employees actually lived in English speaking countries, the official language that all internal documentation had to be written in was English.

Sure, it may make somebody feel warm and fuzzy to translate javascript to other languages, but in the long run it's pointless since to work in engineering, you have to speak English anyway.

Re:Really? (3, Informative)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698017)

I work for a Swiss company. Our official internal language is also English.

Yeah, let us all hide (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697333)

Yeah, let us all hide in our ghettos again, very good for the world.

While very noble, all this native translation stuff and UTF-8, what I see is that more and more people stop trying to reach out and stay in their own culture/circle.
The internet 10 years ago was much more international oriented than it is nowadays.

Misguided (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697335)

Unlike other multilingual programming languages, Babylscript allows people to write programs in a mix of different languages. A programmer can take a library written in French, mix it with their own program written in Spanish, and use code snippets they found on a Chinese help forum.

I would hazard a guess and say that it's easier for a non-English speaker to learn normal JavaScript than it is for anybody to deal with this kind of nonsense.

I don't really see the advantage in this. You would be deliberately segregating yourself from the wider development community, and for what? Anglophones have to learn a lot of this stuff too. An asterisk doesn't mean multiplication to us, yet we learn that. Double ampersands don't mean "and", yet we learn that. Parentheses don't mean "do something", yet we learn that. The equals sign means "equals" in English, yet it's the assignment operator in JavaScript.

There are languages which are designed to more closely match natural language. AppleScript and Basic, for instance. There care also language which aren't very readable at all in English, such as LISP or Perl, that are still very successful. Natural language isn't really valued in the programming world for a variety of reasons. Sure, function calls might have some correspondence with English, but in the end, they are labels, not sentences, and everybody needs to learn what the labels mean precisely, even English people.

Re:Misguided (1)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697613)

I don't really see the advantage in this. You would be deliberately segregating yourself from the wider development community, and for what?

Yeah, it's just national pride. Good job trying to use libraries. I guess we can look forward to the day when jQuery, etc, has to be translated into all the worlds languages! Can you imagine a Arabic programmer trying to use a French and Russian libraries in a project? This sounds like some linguist's wet dream for preserving the diversity, heritage, and beauty of human languages.

Re:Misguided (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697983)

I write my code in English so that everyone in the world can understand my source. Digging through a library written in French would be much worse than learning the meaning of a few words (that have little to do with their English meaning anyway).

Bad math, bad premise (1)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697355)

If your assumption is that only people in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia speak English, then yes, you can say that only 6% of the world's population speaks English. But your assumption would be very, very wrong. Also, as Javascript is not and never claimed to be a natural language, I don't understand why you think you need to learn English before using it. The definition of "for" in Javascript is so far away from the definition of "for" in English that knowing English doesn't help you grasp how it is used Javascript. Certainly English helps, but if enough documentation exists in another given language, it shouldn't be much harder to learn any given computer language without learning to speak English.

Re:Bad math, bad premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697409)

This was done by a Javascript "programmer". They aren't renowned for mental prowess hence why the guy who only knows Javascript always make the least pay out of the team. It's a language that any mouth breather can pick up in 5 minutes and chunk out more heinous code.

Re:Bad math, bad premise (2)

Grave (8234) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697441)

I've always hated the argument that English is not the most widely spoken language because of "native" speakers. It is the most common second language that is learned throughout the world. And honestly, is the idea of having a single language that can be understood across the world so bad?

I'm all for translating documentation into a native language for more people to learn, but the programming language itself needs to be consistent across all uses. Otherwise, it's not the same programming language--just a copy cat with similar structure and syntax, but not very easily followed by someone who knows the original.

Re:Bad math, bad premise (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697537)

English is also the language in which most of the computer-related neologisms originated. Leaving the terms in English makes them unambiguous whereas translating them has constantly been shown to do nothing but confuse people. This guy probably things he originated the idea of translating computer programming languages, but this has been done before many times and all such efforts have pretty much died out and for good reason: they suck.

Who came up with these awful translations? (3, Insightful)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697375)

The translations look terribly inconsistent and even completely erroneous. The German one, for example, strangely mixes verb forms: "throw" is "wirf" (informal imperative) but "catch" is "fangen" (infinitive). "char" is translated as "aeichen", which isn't even a word in German. Are the "translators" just people with no knowledge of the target language who are simply looking up words in a dictionary? If so I don't see how this project is possibly going to be of use to anyone.

Re:Who came up with these awful translations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697679)

Their french sample has "toString()" changed to "enChaîne()" - note the accented "i" character! But the worst thing is that "Chaîne" really means nothing to me - maybe "enChaîneDeLettres()" would do it, but who wants to type all that??

Terrible idea!

Re:Who came up with these awful translations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40698053)

Even better, as one of those 6% of native English speakers, the word "String" has nothing whatsoever to do with the computing concept, so I had to learn the meaning of it in the first place anyway.

More JS newbies ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697377)

Do we really need more JavaScript newbies out there ?
Especially ff they can't be bothered to learn the JS syntax in English.

I'm French btw.

This will not end well (2)

phayes (202222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697385)

Decades back I used a research OS that was developed pretty much along UNIX lines except that it was written in this Pascal variant where all the keywords were in French (Pascal was popular back then as a first language). It never achieved any traction & disappeared because neither the OS nor the language proposed anything really useful that you couldn't get already from Unix/C or just plain Pascal.

On a more recent level, one of the biggest PITA I and many others have with Office in non-english locales is that they translate the function names.
=sum(a1:a6) becomes =somme(a1:a6). I'ts easy enough to find websites that will help perform actions in Office, but I often spend twice the time finding out lust what wierd name MS has come up with for some VB function.

Is "pour" so much better than "for" for someone who is not a native english speaker? No, as by the time you have become proficient in the computer language, the subset of a foreign tongue it uses become well known & the difference irrelevant.

It looks to me that Babylscript is just a tool for the language bigots out there. Give it a few months & people will have forgotten it.

Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697413)

I'm not a native english speak, but translating a programming language has never occured to me. To be honest it sounds like a horrible idea. As several other posters note, obfuscation, exploits and readability for other developers are key concerns. But seriously - what about compatibility? I don't expect browser vendors, or Oracle for that matter, to start supporting javascript written in different languages, so there would have to be some intermediary translation tool to translate between Babylscript and JavaScript. This adds another layer of possible bugs and problems.

Programming isn't for everyone, and if you think programming keywords are too much to learn, then maybe you shouldn't be programming? Or you can learn Randomi or Pearl - no translation needed.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697737)

I don't expect browser vendors, or Oracle for that matter, to start supporting javascript written in different languages, ...

I'm curious why you mention Oracle. You do know that JavaScript isn't Java, right?

6% is just wrong! (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697421)

You fail so completely. []

I think that's more than 6%!

official language != native language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697999)

In most of the countries on that list, the majority of the population has a native language that is different from English. In most countries, English is only one of several different official languages. According to the very same source (, was almost correct in 2001. Do you have more recent numbers?

Re:6% is just wrong! (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698143)

While I think this whole exercise is a waste of time, and that there are a lot more English speakers than TFA claims, I would quibble that there is a difference between being an "official" language of a country and being widely spoken in that country. For example, Romansh is an official language of Switzerland, but is only spoken by about 0.5% of Swiss. French, German and Italian are the other official languages of Switzerland for those keeping score, and yes, a lot of Swiss people learn English.

Wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697431)

From the Babylscript website:

We are also considering the possibility of compiling Babylscript code into normal JavaScript code that works in a browser

Now if that had been the basic underlying concept, then this whole thing might have been a good idea.

But in fact, what they've done is basically just produced hacked versions of the Rhino JS engine that substitute English function names with various foreign names.

Seriously: why? This isn't going to be useful for anyone. JS is only useful because it runs everywhere. The language itself has some major flaws, but it is redeemed by being the baseline platform for all browser development. The server-side variants are nice, and increase its scope, but the browser platform is its killer feature.

If Babylscript code can't be run in the browser, and it can't even be run in the standard server-side JS engines, then what is it for? It'll just add confusion.

They would have been better off starting with something like the CoffeeScript compiler and modifying that, rather than the Rhino engine.

But even if they do turn it into a compiler, the other problem is that they're not actually solving the problem they're setting out to solve, because they're not doing anything about the non-core APIs. For example, all the DOM methods in the browser. Frankly, if you look at any large block of Javascript code, most of the "English" in there is from an API of some sort, not from the JS core. Sure JS has core functions and keywords that are in English, but actually not that many.

So bascially, it's a cute sounding idea that doesn't really achieve anything in practice. Oh well.

STOP! (3, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697437)

For god's sake! Please lets stop translating computer languages.

I hope this is a joke (1)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697447)

Presumably these 94% will have put for foray into the javascript dom on hold until that gets translated.

The Japanese like to put their verbs at the end - are they going to accommodate that?

About half the planet like adjectives after the noun - so is going to be array new?

Re:I hope this is a joke (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697985)

Are they also going to translate numbers?
In my native Dutch (nl-NL) locale, floating point numbers use a comma as decimal separator. So english "123.45" should be "123,45".
As I understand it, other locales also have differing floating point notation.

Really Necessary? (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697449)

I learned programming in BASIC way before I learned English (my mother tongue is German). It didn't pose a problem at all, you have to learn the keywords character-by-character anyways, since you aren't allowed to make any stylistic modifications to the text. I don't quite see the point in this exercise, especially for languages that use the same writing system.

Additionally, programming nowadays is also about getting more information and help online. When you don't know English, most of the information online is inaccessible to you, and you can't even ask any questions.

Way to make un maintainable code. (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697453)

This is a really stupid idea!

Idiocy (4, Insightful)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697481)

This is the most idiotic idea I've ever saw.

Will they also translate all the libs, the docs, the books out there?
IMHO This makes JS even less accessible and seriously increases the confusion factor.

the upside (1)

DriveDog (822962) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697485)

Just think how many jobs this will add in the future, all those former COBOL coders retrained to fix Y2K, er, I mean, other-than-English version bugs...

Is it April 1 already? Surely they wouldn't really name it Babylscript, knowing what happened to the Tower's progress after language-splintering, would they?

This makes me hate the world. (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697489)

This is so stupid, it makes me hate to world.

That this is a bad idea with a long history is what makes it so grating, and if it's a joke -- which I hope -- it's one that's been done before, better.

Self-promotion? (1)

GroovyTrucker (917003) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697505)

Anyone else notice that this is submitted by its creator?

Umm...Slashdot is now open to the highest bidder?

Maybe the editors need to vet the submissions better.

learned nothing from excel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697507)

Excel has translated function makes since forever. This only means that I can't google for a solution since my office has Swedish function names. I'd prefer English, and I'm sure even non English speakers in Sweden would. In fact, I would prefer random gibberish method names if only they were consistent globally. It would just take me a second to find out that the function for "average()" is called b&4@r-5. With the Swedish names I'm lost. I tend to google for a solution in English and then start guessing.

This whole project is idiotic. If you cant read/write Latin alphabet, you won't be able to make a webpage in html anyway.

Bloody good idea, chaps. (2)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697517)

Finally use English programmers change the appearance of GUI widgets by their colour property!

This might be a bit imperialistic, but is a programmer who is not comfortable with English a good programmer? Since there is so much technical info in English, if your English skill aren't they good then you are going to miss out on a lot of good info. I seem to recall an interview with Linus Torvalds where he said that because all source code, etc, he ever saw was in English it never even occurred to him to code in his native language. Someone who wants JavaScript in their native tongue has probably only just picked up "Learn JavaScript in 24 hours"...two hours ago.

Re:Bloody good idea, chaps. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697585)

It's not imperialistic. English is the language of trade and science and is also the language from which the vast majority of computer-related neologisms originated. To have programming languages use English for its keywords makes it unambiguous to all users rather than you having some sub-par translated version that makes it impossible to use, say, MDN because you can't match up the keywords from the English version to your own.

Re:Bloody good idea, chaps. (1)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697899)

I agree you with, I just didn't express my point well. I think I've heard some linguistics express objections at English being the world's defacto technical language. A sign of the evil oppressive colonial past and an artefact of Anglo-centric privilege! And it's crass too, we should embrace the full gamut of how the human experience is expressed! Where is the soul in writing everything in English?!

Unfortunately I could see Babylscript being embraced by those with nationalistic axes to grind. Kind of like how French ATC will speak to French pilots in French (while everyone else uses English).

More precisely (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697941)

English is the language of almost all the people who came up with the stored program digital computer. That is the overriding reason.

There are other important trade languages and, during the period when computers were getting started, German was still the language of chemistry and our R&D library had lots of engineering textbooks in German. If you don't know basic Italian and German you won't go far with opera. Musical notation is still Italian and I haven't noticed any moves to replace p and f in musical scores with Q and L (quiet and loud). Words like "crescendo" just got taken over into English.

I am all for linguistic diversity, but this is really a straw man argument about learning programming.

kind of silly (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697555)

when a native English speaker learns a computer language, you might have to learn a function like, say for example, concat()


ok, I get it that concat is from the word concatenate. but concatenate, in English, can have all sorts of meanings, and in the context of javascript, that the meaning of the word concatenate should lend itself ONLY to the scenario of arrays, and ONLY to the meaning of joining arrays together... this is rather arbitrary

such that knowledge of English doesn't really advance your learning of the computer language. in fact, weighted down with assumptions from the human language, you might think a function does something else than what it really does

so we all start with a clean slate, from any language background

the point is, you have to learn a computer language means you have to learn a computer language. and knowledge of the human language that some of the functions have cutesy relationships with words from the human language, doesn't really mean much in the end. in fact, it might work against you if you make bad assumptions

you have to learn what? a "vocabulary" of 40-50 "words" to get 99% of the functionality of a computer language? this is beyond the ability of anyone intelligent enough to be engaged in the effort of programming, from any language background?

so i don't really get this exercise. i guess it is good for school kids, but it kind of adds an extra unnecessary layer of incomprehensibility for anyone seriously engaged in programming, beginner or expert

The hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697563)

Do you hell need to learn English.
All you need to learn is JAVASCRIPT, the LANGUAGE.
It IS a multilingual language! Just because it shares SOME words with English, doesn't mean it is English.
It isn't any different from C having letters than aren't standard in some other languages with complex glyph systems.
So what if a language uses Ancient Egyptian, the functions each of those glyphs do are not what they do in Ancient Egyptian!

You don't need to know what a document is in English, all you need to know is it contains a bunch of methods and refers to the HTML document.
You don't need to give a damn about what querySelector would mean in English, all you need to know is it is far better than getElementBy* methods!
Who cares if true is true in English? It is still binary 1 in JavaScript and that is all that matters.

This has to be the most retarded thing I have read all day. And I read the requirements for Office '13 today.
This is just going to make JavaScript MORE painful.
Don't do this. For the love of god.
Translate HELP files. That is all that is needed! This is going to fragment the hell out of JavaScript.
Unless of course you make a cross-translation library very accessible. But its still sick! This perversion, its worse than jQuery!

Re:The hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697769)

And to be more to the point, jQuery, making your own functions and stuff.

Typically I make descriptive names and use the first letters. (or if they have one already, I turn it in to the abbreviation)
GEBID. GEBTN. GEBIDS (return the style) QS. (querySelector)
These make no sense in English, all they are as abstract ideas linked to a feature of a language to cut down typing / size.

Pretty much every developer I have seen does something similar to cut down messy looking code, the size, cut down on typing, or even to make their code a polyglot for whatever reason. (for portability or for cool points)

If anything, what this project is going to do is force people to relearn code snippets in THEIR respective translation of the language, which would be more work for very little gain as anyone who uses JS is going to understand what FOR does. (Hell, FOR basically makes no sense for a looping structure anyway. It has always looked obtuse. LET, DO, WHILE and others sound right. FOR just irks me the wrong way. LET in this case is a scope creator rather than loop)

Anyway, as long as there is an easy translation layer available it should be fine. A tool to auto-translate to whatever language will take out the hassle, for the most part.

heresy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697565)

English is the lingua franca of the technical, engineering and scientific domains. It allows anyone to communicate and understand one another, and suits nicely because it's been formed by usage. I can't use my native language (french) for any of my coding - its vocabulary doesn't suit or simply does not offer proper equivalents for many technical terms and expressions. It just plain feels wrong. Besides there's no use being "local" in such endeavors. Really I don't see the point beside the fact it seems politically nice and fancy.

Re:heresy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697609)

Beside programming is a lot about usage and convention, as probably are many other technical domains, and for that reason alone it'd make a poor learning experience to a beginner.

language barriers are not the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697569)

You won't write better code just because these like 50 keywords or so are in your native language. Learning to code has zero to do with the spoken language that the keywords are in.

And then, you are not the first to make this mistake. Microsoft used to have native language variants of their macro language VBA and even the Excel expression language. So you could use the German WENN() instead of IF(). It starts getting weird when there are collisions. Same spelling, different language for totally different things. SI could be YES in Italian, or IF in French. And then have the interpreter guessing the language :-)

It will start falling apart if more than one person works on the code. Because the keywords are in your native language, you will naturally chose identifiers (variable names) in your native language. So the Pakistani guy will happily write his code in Urdu, the Israeli in Hebrew. When the British guy opens up that code, the editor may translate the keywords (if, while, function) to English. But what about the identifiers? Translation impossible as they are typically abbreviated, use acronyms etc.

Also identifiers typically have restrictions on the valid characters. Many languages are incompatible with that.

If you want to get technology to the masses, then invest in translating the documentation, not the code!!!

Better idea (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697589)

How about an IDE that allows programming in a native language and then saves the resulting code in English.
Then the IDE could be expanded for other programming languages more easily and
doesn't require that a javascript library get tacked on to every page they make with "native language" javascript (webpage bloat is bad). Anyway, I could see this mostly be useful to Chinese programmers since I assume they have to type less? e.g. function is (two characters)

I say we take off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697595)

and nuke the entire language from orbit.
It's the only way to be sure.

Javascript is just the beginning (1)

ColdCat (2586245) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697617)

After translating javascript you need to translate every javascript library, applications DOM or the translation is useless
I remember a French version of Pascal which makes me laught a lot.

Javascript is maybe around 150 translatable words, I'm sure it's easier to learn by sticking to english instructions and reading tutorial in your native language.

Bad name (1)

jimbrooking (1909170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697629)

Should be called Babelscript as it reduces comprehension. (See Tower of Babel [] .) Like APL [] , a write-only language.

/. united?? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697633)

Wow. I've read all the comments (that have been selected) and not one thinks this is a good idea.
Amazing to see everyone agree for a change.

"6% native English speakers" - is that relevent to anything? How many people can *read* (or write) English, as a 1st, 2nd, or nth language? - I'd guess somewhere over 75%, even higher if you consider the simple keywords used in javascript (not that knowing their meaning in real English will help enormously, as has been pointed out). Are there any complicated keywords? I suppose 'function' might not be so often used...then there's CSS (I assume they mean that and HTML too)..."border", "margin", "padding" - they're reasonably common for me, but that doesn't help me in the slightest.

Nope - knowing English isn't much help at all, imo. At best, it gets you over the first hurdle...but there's a whole 800m-worth of hurdles to go with the rest of Javascript/CSS/HTML. Really, it's horrible - and they call Symbian C++ hard! (I didn't think Symbian C++ was so hard - pretty much the same as Android, imo).

English! (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697691)

It's the new Lingua Franca! No, wait...

Dummeste. Ide. Noensinne. (1)

bAdministrator (815570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697709)

Is this a rerun of The Tower of Babel?

Lingua Franca (1)

jimbrooking (1909170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697721)

The lingua franca in international air travel is English, so international pilots and all air traffic controllers at international airports must learn English. (See this reference [] . Maybe we ought to let each airport direct traffic in their own language as well?

Get over it!

Can we get a version in American? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697775)

Can we get a version in American?

New SlashDot category required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697799)

... "Best useless, dangerous and entropy-generating project of the year".
This Babylscript do deserve to be in the first place for years to come...

no me gusta! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697825)

think about where this could lead to:

suppose chinese becomes the predominant language most popularly spoken in the world.

and the trend becomes that most new programming languages that surface in the next 3 decades are all natively chinese.

that means all us english people gotta learn to speak chinese and read chinese before we can work on any of the latest new stuff.

that would stink :(

Know english first to learn Javascript? (1)

Saija (1114681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697829)

That's bullshit, i learned javascript in Colombia as a native spanish speaker.

Javascript was better ... (4, Funny)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697833)

in the original Klingon.

This made me feel old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697937)

I am 33. Doing things with computers since 8. There was always an idiot who believed that providing translated syntax to a programming language would achieve something, Whether we like it or not, English is the lingua franca of IT (and other things in this planet after WW2). Period. And another example of European mental masturbation. This is how Europe will catch up with more innovative regions...

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697955)

This is just stupid and pointless! I mean you have to learn programming syntax anyway, so what does it matter if the syntax includes English words.

Step away from the computer please (1)

he-sk (103163) | more than 2 years ago | (#40697957)

Oh god, this is such a horrible idea. So they fixed the VBA problem where code developed for the German version of Excel fails to run anywhere else. Good for them. But then they claim that you can mix and match French and Spanish code. This is good how? As a German native speaker I was exposed a Java program written in German. For example, getters and setters were prefixed with "nimm" and "gib". My eyes start to bleed just thinking about it.

If you learn programming you have to deal with complex abstract problems. Learning the arbitrary names of a few keywords doesn't really impose such a cost, compared to the gymnastics you have to make to wrap your head around, say, pointer arithmetic. Okay, so nobody uses that anymore, but what about the difference between a value and a reference (e.g. in a linked list)? Or even simpler: how about the basic concept of extracting common code into a function?

Meme-time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697961)

I don't usually write JavaScript code...
But when I do, I write in Linear B.

OffShore Programming (2)

heatseeker_around (1246024) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698025)

I can't wait to see the result of the code for the project that my company decided to develop offshore, in India. I am sure that our clients will be pleased to learn that we will not be able to debug a fucking line of code on site.
What a fucking great idea ! yeah !

Why don't you just write it in our beloved Universal Language "Esperanto" ? It should be even easier to maintain... It is UNIVERSAL !....

I believe that sometimes, if nobody invented a specific thing, maybe it's because this thing is fucking stupid. Try it, figure out by yourself that it is so stupid that even your mother would disown you, then trash it forever.

Too hard to learn a few keywords? (1)

qrwe (625937) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698105)

A computer language is, as seen from a natural language perspective, constrained to its reserved keywords. A simple Google query shows that JavaScript has remarkably many - I can count it to be 184 (as seen in [] ). However, is it really necessary to understand the literal meaning of each keyword? Many of those keywords need a short description anyway to use them, and those descriptions alone could simply be written in any natural language of choice. Hence, changing the reserved keywords would only confuse any "English JavaScript" developers.

Can software development deteriorate any further? (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698113)

Once upon a time, when computers were not available to all, when it required an investment and expertise to write software, the higher barrier to entry essentially insured that, basically, only well qualified people were writing software.

Today, when anyone with 25 cents can write and compile software, it shows, I believe, in a lower overall quality of software and documentation. In those days I loved my software job; today the software overall sucks so bad I can't stand my job anymore.

This javascript 'enhancement' will only make the problem worse. If like me you think software sucks bad, just wait.

Really bad idea (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40698119)

This would be and incredibly stupid move. One of the greatest strengths of code is that it's a shared, common language. You can easily debug someone's syntax on usenet/blog/whatever without having to know their native language.

Sure it's nice to localize and cater to individual cultures, but the reason computer languages are so accessible to beginners is because they don't need to learn the language through google translate. Ever try and debug HelloWorld() in Arabic?

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