What language do you think in? - Agile Blog - Riter

What language do you think in?

Somewhere, say, in New Zealand, some indigenous tribes can have a language that is completely different from ours. Their terminology may have no equivalents in our speech, and the very perception of the world will seem strange to us. In this case, the principle of constructing sentences and the formulation of thoughts can be fundamentally inconsistent with what we are used to. For example, such a tribe may have no concept of "left" and "right", so aborigines are oriented in space exclusively on the sides of the world. If they have a concept of "south" or "east", their navigators will explain not the relative position of a turn, but the absolute one. It could say, for example: "After a hundred meters, keep to the south" or something like that.

Different cultures

Let us, for the continuation of this allegory, suppose that this tribe does not use any interrogative proposals, but only affirmative ones. And instead of a question, let's imagine, "How can I get to the library?" in this language we say "You should show me the way to the library". And to further confuse you, let's say that this language is completely devoid of pronouns and numerals. The example with a library with this new rule will sound like "Chuck must show Fasimbe the way to the library". And Chuck could reply: "An elephant-like step to the southeast and then a bearish step to the south."

And now let's think, is this language convenient for everyday communication? For the aborigines - it certainly is. They do not know how to start thinking in such a way that they would generally want (or need) to say a pronoun, a relative direction or, at least, some numeral. For them, that world is quite natural and convenient, and our familiar world for them is ugly. By the way, polyglots, who perfectly master the semantics and axiomatics of several languages, are in great demand.

Now it is very trendy to talk about the fact that a real programmer should not tie himself to any particular language and should think in terms that go beyond a specific language or paradigm. For example, the formulation of their own profession or position like "PHP developer" or "Javascript developer", is doomed to failure, and it is better not to deal with such people. And the fact is that a programming language is primarily a language, and only then it is programming. And it is important to know what language a programmer thinks in order to understand his basis of thinking for further communication.

Do not ask in what programming language a person writes. Ask what language he thinks.

Riter development team