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In linguistics, the word 'statement' means something that is true or false, closer to a declarative sentence, but in programming, the meaning is closer to an imperative sentence.

What is the reason for this difference?

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2 Answers 2

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You meet numerous "jargonic" meanings of common words in the field of mathematics, of which computer science is a branch (and in many other fields).

E.g. a function:

  • an activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing.

vs.

  • a relation or expression involving one or more variables.

I acknowledge that the use of statement sounds a little weird as it evokes more a logical proposition than an programmatic action that modifies the state of variables. This acception was already in use in the frame of FORTRAN, the first symbolic programming language, created in 1957. Below, the "formal definition":

  • A program unit is a sequence of statements, terminated by an END.

  • A statement consists of zero or more key words, symbolic names, literal constants, statement labels, operators, and special characters.

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The reason is very simple. In computer science, as well as in many other sciences, concepts are given names without much recourse to linguistic and historic significance of the name. This is not to say that names are chosen randomly, far from it, but I cannot imagine a group of people who are constructing a programming language discussing the meaning of “statement” in linguistics. (And the same can be said about linguists, who am I sure do not pay much attention to programming languages.)

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