I notice that every time my 2 year old niece hears a new word she will laugh a bit and then repeat it in context. She seems to find new words funny. As we learn more and more presumably we need ever more sophisticated constructs to make us laugh. It made me think that humans perhaps evolved a sense of humour as a result of the advantage offered by sophisticated language. If my theory is correct, the people here that are best at Perl must be the most difficult to humour with Perl. Do the best of you still find anything about Perl funny?
  • Comment on Humour an important mechanism for language learning

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Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by amarquis (Curate) on Apr 30, 2008 at 13:48 UTC

    Programming Perl, my first Perl book, probably holds the most responsibility for my going on to learn more Perl. And it wasn't any property of the language - it was the writing. It was clever, it was funny, it introduced concepts clearly and concisely. It was a far cry from any other programming text I'd gone through: "This is language structure/property X, it means Y, here is an example, repeat ad infinitum."

    I'd been looking at programming as a burden, a work tool I endured because it did the job, but after reading it I started to try to do things for fun. (And eventually I learned to enjoy the programming component of $job).

Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by mr_mischief (Monsignor) on Apr 30, 2008 at 16:42 UTC
    Many psychologists and anthropologists, from what I've read (I'm neither) think that humor is mainly a way to relieve stress from stressful situations. It helps lower blood pressure and body temperature, and it helps keep people from being overwhelmed by nervousness. Many things we think are funny are either surprising or mildly uncomfortable, both of which could be stressful situations if not taken humorously.

    Learning a new word or a new unusual trick in a programming language is an exhilarating experience for some people. The task causes person to stretch his or her boundaries ever so slightly, and that person achieves their goal. Laughing about it is healthier than being nervous and panicked over it.

    People who enjoy the topic they are learning are more likely, I think, to be able to laugh about learning new things than are people who find the topic overly difficult or boring. This means that people who train in something they enjoy end up healthier compared to studying something they despise. It's very good that your niece enjoys new words, and it's very good that Perl programmers enjoy learning new Perl or seeing novel applications of it.

    I think that Perl's community is largely connected by and to a lesser extent even defined by the humor of the community. I think this is one reason there's such a difference of opinion between the proponents of small, orthogonal languages and those of large languages in which TIMTOWTDI like Perl.

    The small language proponents are concerned with getting down to the problem at hand without having to learn too much about the tool. Those of us who prefer a more baroque tool both enjoy learning the extra syntax and semantics and know that the investment pays off by being able to express those problems more clearly and succinctly later, if only to others with the same appreciation for big languages.

    Enjoying the investment in learning the language makes it much more worthwhile, and the humor both comes in part from that and reinforces it.

    If I had to make a prediction, I'd say that your niece will go on to learn more words than most people. There's not a lot of danger of her running out of vocabulary to learn if she enjoys doing that. That's especially true of languages like English which have so many words -- well over 450,000 in many dictionaries.

    I'd also say that the majority of intermediate to advanced Perl programmers got that way because they have the same sort of appreciation for Perl as your niece does for her native language. They know that seeing and learning an unfamiliar construct or a novel use of the language takes a little effort, but that there's a payoff to what they learn.

    Even JAPHs and other obfuscated programs, which are not written in styles you'd want to use for a real program, often expand the reader's (and the author's!) horizons a bit. There's some new trick used in some, while others simply have an unusual way of looking at the code and data. That someone plays games with their tools and gets practice in building and understanding oddities for their own sake and not as a means to an end is a sign of enjoyment of using the tools and relishing learning more.

    Most woodworkers, for example, have scraps of wood that are cut, routed, sanded, and carved in various ways for the simple reasons that they want to learn a technique for later and they enjoy the work. Perl obfus and golf are no different. They're not end tables or kitchen cabinets. They're the scrap pieces we go back to when we want a particular scroll on a mantle or a particular fillet on the edge of a coffee table. The fact that they are ugly by themselves is no matter. It's just practice. This is one aspect of such programs that people deriding C and Perl programmers for obfuscations as a passtime are probably missing.

    I think those who are most expert with Perl (and perl, because in some edge cases that matters too) might be harder to impress. I also think they're still likely to appreciate humor about the language and novel approaches to problems because those things probably contributed to them being the experts in the first place. Perl is a great tool, and gets lots of work done. The comparatively large investment of time and effort into learning to use it effectively means that people who learn it best are probably the type who enjoy tools for their own sake as well as for what they produce.

    Humor plays a big part of that enjoyment, and the enjoyment leads to more humor. It's a very healthy thing for a community such as ours to enjoy what we do, and humor is both a sign and a cause of that enjoyment.

Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by shmem (Chancellor) on Apr 30, 2008 at 13:29 UTC
    humans perhaps evolved a sense of humour as a result of the advantage offered by sophisticated language.

    I personally believe that not all there is about humans is result of evolution, and humour per se isn't. The capacity to understand sophisticated jokes however is related to intellect, which is bound to evolution. Intellect and language are tied, hence the link of abilities, but humour is a human gift sui generis. Humour makes life easier, so it does for language learning. How is your sense of humour? ;-)

    Do the best of you still find anything about Perl funny?

    I'm a long time perl programmer, but clearly not one of the best - and I still find perl funny, as do some of the best. For instance, constructs like

    my $maxint = ~@~ ;

    : -)

    Ah, and then... witty Japhs ++


    _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                  /\_¯/(q    /
    ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
    ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}
Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Apr 30, 2008 at 15:54 UTC
    I don't think your conclusion is supported by your premises. Specifically, I have 5 kids and, while they all learned with humor, they still find humor in language. Specifically words like "poopy" and "fart". :)

    As for Perl, I always find humor in Perl.

    My criteria for good software:
    1. Does it work?
    2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
      I particularly find humor (and a little alliteration) in poopy Perl.

      You owe me some screen cleaner - I was eating lunch :)

      With three kids -- one boy ('nuff said) and one tomboyish girl, I concur completely. The other is "too refined" for that (yeah right).


Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by marto (Cardinal) on Apr 30, 2008 at 20:56 UTC
    To appreciate this post in context please take a look through some of Win's previous posts.

    It never ceases to amaze me that you put effort into posts like this, yet your posts asking for technical advice show no such effort. From time to time, usually after you have spent a few days creating threads which ask for people to do your job for you (not always perl related), these posts being poorly worded, and in general showing little or (most of the time) no effort on your behalf, you post something like this thread (or for a previous example this one) in some sort of attempt to ingratiate yourself with people here, or is it an attempt to regain lost XP.

    You frequently ignore replies to your lazy questions. Most of the time you want someone to provide you with a fully working solution to something which you have spent no time researching. You fail to read the documentation (see this node, though there are dozens and dozens of instances of such behavior in your back catalog); you come here asking people for information which a search engine would easily find you, except that you can't seem to be bothered to use one; you don't seem to learn from your previous mistakes, or answers you have been given (see Removing duplicates from an array and printing out tabs between each element in an array, two recent examples though I am sure there are many more). Suggestions that you should use super search, read the tutorials, read any form of documentation, or learn the basics of the tools you need to use (perl, SQL Server and so on) get ignored.

    Many of us have witnessed your conduct in the CB, ranging from senseless personal attacks to racist/homophobic rants.

    It certainly seems that you not want to learn perl (your actions alone prove this). With this in mind, what do you find funny about perl, other than that you can come here and get people to do your job for you?
      Well your response is certainly not funny at all...
    A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by absolut.todd (Monk) on May 01, 2008 at 00:38 UTC
    I always have a little chuckle when I bang out a good one liner.

    Especially if it includes $poopy

Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by adamk (Chaplain) on May 01, 2008 at 08:08 UTC
    The day we named the " operator" (for counting the number of regex matches) was hilarious.
    $matches =()= $string =~ /regex/;
      Haha! But also.. *shudder*.
      Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.
      -- Groucho Marx

      That is one piece of 'net lore I would like to remove from my memory.

      /me shudders


Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by Erez (Priest) on May 01, 2008 at 06:50 UTC

    Reading Perl documentation, books and articles, I always like the way its writers are not averse to humour. It may come from its Unix roots and hackers humour but its spirit is well maintained. The humour that is evident in every corner (including here), clearly shows that everyone in the Perl community take themselves very seriously.

    Stop saying 'script'. Stop saying 'line-noise'.
    We have nothing to lose but our metaphors.

Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by Anonymous Monk on May 01, 2008 at 04:46 UTC
    New is new, new is funny, new gets old, new not funny. Jenkem is bad for you Win.
Re: Humour an important mechanism for language learning
by blazar (Canon) on May 16, 2008 at 19:14 UTC

    Humour? I don't know 'bout Perl, but I often find humour at Perlmonks: your posts, for example are quite humourous. Well, on a second thought they're not humourous, they're not funny at all, just plain irritating and annoying. Fun is there, but elsewhere. But perhaps I can make up some humour... how 'bout the following? "I notice that Win's 2 year old niece seems to learn much more than her uncle: at least a new word every now and again, which, compared to... err, well, nothing is quite a lot!"

    If you can't understand the incipit, then please check the IPB Campaign.