Is there a term for programming languages that read like written sentences? I'm thinking of languages like Python, where you can almost read the code aloud as a sentence, as opposed to C++ which is really arcane.

For example, in Python if 'pizza' not in animals is very clear when read aloud.

Seems like maybe there's a formal term for this?


I know of no standard term for that aspect of PL. Maybe you can use "human-readable syntax" or "human-friendly syntax".

In PL theory, we (unapologetically) tend to disregard syntactic issues (e.g., look at LISP), and focus more on language features / semantics / types and more math-y stuff.

I mean: if you asked me what are the main differences between C++ and Python, I would probably spend a long time before mentioning some syntactic difference.

For practical applications, of course, having a more human-centric design that the one offered by pure theory is important. A clean and easy syntax is certainly quite convenient to read and write.

Note that, if a PL pushes this principle to extremes, and employs a syntax which is very close to natural language, it could possibly harm productivity. This is because, natural languages can be quite ambiguous, and when programming you really need to be rigorous. Trying to oversimplify a PL by completely removing the math-y aspects of PL is probably not a good idea.

COBOL is arguably more human-readable than Python, but it's hardly better. x = y+z is simpler than ADD Y to Z GIVING X.


Natural language programming is what I believe you would call this

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ One-line answers are usually not taken in high regard by the community. Would you care to explain your view? $\endgroup$ – dkaeae Mar 4 '19 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @dkaeae I do apologize, I intended to leave a comment but the comment button wasn't showing up. There now is a comment button if you would like me to transfer my response. $\endgroup$ – Elias Rowan Albatross Mar 4 '19 at 13:07

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