My favourite toy language

jargon, language
(MFTL) Describes a talk on a programming language design that is heavy on syntax (with lots of BNF), sometimes even talks about semantics (e.g. type systems), but rarely, if ever, has any content (see content-free). More broadly applied to talks – even when the topic is not a programming language — in which the subject matter is gone into in unnecessary and meticulous detail at the sacrifice of any conceptual content. “Well, it was a typical MFTL talk”.
2. A language about which the developers are passionate (often to the point of prosyletic zeal) but no one else cares about. Applied to the language by those outside the originating group. “He cornered me about type resolution in his MFTL.”
The first great goal in the mind of the designer of an MFTL is usually to write a compiler for it, then bootstrap the design away from contamination by lesser languages by writing a compiler for it in itself. Thus, the standard put-down question at an MFTL talk is “Has it been used for anything besides its own compiler?”. On the other hand, a language that *cannot* be used to write its own compiler is beneath contempt.
Doug McIlroy once proposed a test of the generality and utility of a language and the operating system under which it is compiled: “Is the output of a Fortran program acceptable as input to the Fortran compiler?” In other words, can you write programs that write programs? Alarming numbers of (language, OS) pairs fail this test, particularly when the language is Fortran. Aficionados are quick to point out that Unix (even using Fortran) passes it handily. That the test could ever be failed is only surprising to those who have had the good fortune to have worked only under modern systems which lack OS-supported and -imposed “file types”.
See break-even point, toolsmith.


Read Also:

  • My foot

    interjection in a pig’s ass, my ass: She’s the greatest my eye/ You’ll do that my foot [first form 1842+; in the early and obsolete meaning ”nonsense,” perhaps fr a Joe Miller joke in which a Latin nonsense phrase O mihi, beate Martine (”O, to me, blessed Martin”) is pronounced as all my eye and […]

  • My god

    Also, my goodness. Expressions of shock, surprise, or dismay, as in My God, don’t tell me he’s dying, or My goodness, what an awful outfit. The first term dates from about 1800; goodness in the variant is a euphemism for God.

  • My heart bleeds for you

    I don’t feel at all sorry for you, I don’t sympathize, as in You only got a five percent raise? My heart bleeds for you. Originating in the late 1300s, this hyperbolic expression of sympathy has been used ironically since the mid-1700s.

  • Myiasis

    [mahy-uh-sis] /ˈmaɪ ə sɪs/ noun, plural myiases [mahy-uh-seez] /ˈmaɪ əˌsiz/ (Show IPA). Pathology, Veterinary Pathology. 1. any disease that results from the infestation of tissues or cavities of the body by larvae of flies. /ˈmaɪəsɪs/ noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz) 1. infestation of the body by the larvae of flies 2. any disease resulting from such […]

Disclaimer: My favourite toy language definition / meaning should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. All content on this website is for informational purposes only.