Unexpected Grammar Curmudgeon

rogersgeorge on July 21st, 2016

Well, punctuation curmudgeon. It’s Linus Torvalds, the writer (inventor? developer? founder?) of the computer language Linux. I didn’t expect this from him. In fact, I tend to feel that computer languages manage their own grammar and punctuation by not working if you do it wrong.  He recently expressed an opinion about commenting. Comments in computer code are passages for humans to read, that presumably explain what’s going on, but the code itself doesn’t need them. You tell the computer that a passage is a comment with punctuation (that varies from language to language) at the beginning and end of the comment. Here’s a summary of what he said:

He likes this:

/* This is a comment */

He also approves of this:

* This is also a comment, but it can now be cleanly
* split over multiple lines

But he disapproves of this:

/* This is disgusting drug-induced
* crap, and should die

/* This is also very nasty
* and visually unbalanced */

“I’m not even going to start talking about the people who prefer to ‘box in’ their comments, and line up both ends and have fancy boxes of stars around the whole thing,” he adds. “I’m sure that looks really nice if you are out of your mind on LSD, and have nothing better to do than to worry about the right alignment of the asterisks.”

You get the idea. His original essay was quite a bit spicier, and not suitable for a family blog such as this one. If you follow the link, you can start right below the horizontal line.


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3 Responses to “Unexpected Grammar Curmudgeon”

  1. Quick correction. Linux is not a computer language. It is an operating system written in the programming language C. Linus did not invent the language, but did use that language to invent the OS.

  2. Thank you, Sir! It didn’t sit quite right when I called Linux a language, but “operating system” didn’t pop into my head. That’s what happens when you don’t check your documentation with a SME, eh?

  3. Wouldn’t say I am a SME, but I am a tech curmudgeon 😉


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