I've often heard that the C declarator syntax described as "an experiment that failed." I've seen claims that this sentiment is also shared by its creator Dennis Ritchie. Does anybody have an actual citation for this?

I'm doing a related project and writing the documentation for it and it would be nice to have said citation.

FWIW, I have found where Bjarne Stroustrup said it during a Slashdot interview:

The flip side of this is that you have to deal with old mistakes and with compatibility problems. For example, I consider the C declarator syntax an experiment that failed. Nevertheless, I adopted it for C++. The alternatives and improvements I considered at the time would not have improved matters. I rate is as a minor problem. The more serious problem is to maintain closeness of language definitions as C evolves.

but I'd rather have a citation from Ritchie if one exists. Yes, I tried Googl'ing for it (which is how I found the Stroustrup citation), but nothing for Ritchie.

  • $\begingroup$ "I'm still uncertain about the language declaration syntax, where in declarations, syntax is used that mimics the use of the variables being declared. It is one of the things that draws strong criticism, but it has a certain logic to it." Dennis M. Ritchie $\endgroup$ – Evil Mar 27 '17 at 5:40
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    $\begingroup$ @YuvalFilmus StackOverflow is for programming questions. This question isn't a programming question. $\endgroup$ – Paul J. Lucas Mar 27 '17 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ I am glad it helped, but I think that this question is not about the Computer Science per se. It looks like historical quote about the programming language syntax made post factum. Anyway, have you seen Stroustrup's interview? He was convinced that creating C++ was a mistake. $\endgroup$ – Evil Mar 27 '17 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Evil There's a History Stack Exchange and a Computer Science Stack Exchange, but no History of Computer Science Stack Exchange (which would probably be way too niche). Of the two, I figured that computer scientists would be more likely to know the answer than general historians. $\endgroup$ – Paul J. Lucas Mar 27 '17 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @PaulJ.Lucas It's a history of computing question, sure. But this is computer science, not computing. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 27 '19 at 22:40

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