Languages and idiom

This summer, I’ve been going to a French speaking meetup in Crown Heights on Friday evenings. It’s a nice to end the week by simply sitting outside and chatting in French.

It’s got me thinking about natural and programming languages. My ideas on this are probably very naive, so please forgive me, and feel free to improve on them in the comments below.

To me, it seems like fumbling for a word in a natural language is similar in some ways to fumbling with the idiom of a programming language. Not that I think that natural and programming languages are even remotely the same thing. Maybe it’s just that the struggle of searching for idiom is somehow analogous. Maybe it’s not even about language at all, but just about how we handle incomplete knowledge. Maybe it’s about how expressing yourself as you intend to is hard under almost any circumstance, and using a non-native language makes that even more obvious.

In any case, I find that there is something very appealing about trying to express yourself with incomplete idiom. You try your best to communicate with the parts of the language that you have. It’s good to make the attempt.

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