Posted by E.L.E.X on February 20 2019 under Tech/Programming
A programming language isn’t something ordinarily considered capable of making a cultural statement. But Anuoluwapo Karounwi has done just that with Yorlang, a programming language designed to write small programs using Yoruba, a language native to South Western Nigeria.
Programming languages, mostly designed so both humans and machines can read instructions, often contain keywords from natural languages. The most popular programming languages in the world use English-inspired keywords and code libraries. This is probably because about a third of the world’s major programming languages were developed in English speaking countries and languages created in non-English speaking countries are often English-based for the benefit of a larger audience. An example of this is Python that was created in the Netherlands but is still based on the English language.
Although fluency in English is not a requirement for learning programming, just as fluency in Italian is not a requirement for learning sheet music, however, having a basic knowledge of English enables programmers to understand the regular meaning of keywords that appear in lines of code and gives context. A learner who has some knowledge of the natural language would find it easier to grasp programming language because he would understand the meaning of the keywords.
Anuoluwapo Karounwi was thinking about this natural language/programming language relationship when he created Yorlang. He imagined people who think in Yoruba would find it easier to understand programming, as beginners, if they could read the keywords in Yoruba, the language they were most familiar with.
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