mental coupling and languages

Some people, myself included, act differently when speaking in tongues. Especially if the spoken language is learned later in life. I suspect this is so because the nth language is learned in conjunction with other, less primal skills, knowledge and associations. After all, we cannot remember most of events and happenings during which we learned our mother tongue. It is therefore a deeper mystery what is associated with it in our minds.

When conversing in English, I feel more open and less constrained (compared Finnish, that is). This is not a conscious thing, and something I’ve only realised recently. I don’t know why this is for sure, but I believe words, rules and grammar are coupled to the things we learn them from. These are often cultural things, especially when we learn them outside the constrained and politically correct environment of a classroom. When learning a language, it gets coupled with the going-ons in your life and the sources of input for that language.

a theory regarding programming languages #

These languages are generally learned later in life, and and are not associated with the primal early-life instincts. Nevertheless, people often choose (or stumble upon) a language and learn programming with it. Rarely do we excel at something on the first try.

So we remember hardships and the shameful results, and associate those language to the first languages or techs. Whatever this language is, it is forever coupled with the bad feels. Programmers often learn another language on top of a basic understanding of software development in general. The “better” language is often functional, statically typed, academic, or typically the opposite of the first. This trajectory may include an appearance of the “second system” effect at play. This time, when considering all the previous language’s faults, the new one must be better off.

The first language is often something easily approachable, like Javascript for example. And while it deserves it’s share of criticism, the criticism is multiplied by the coupling to shame and bad memories from people who’ve moved on to the apparent next level.

Ironically, the most useful thing to learn at the “first language stage”, should have nothing to do with a specific language or it’s features. Instead, it is the patterns, craftwork, and ability to write readable and maintainable code.


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