JavaScript == English

I was born and raised in the USA and as such, the English language comes naturally to me.  Sure, I see the idiosyncrasies such as 3 words spelled 3 different ways sounding exactly the same (their they’re there), 1 word with multiple meanings (rich, row,  tear) or a word spelled the same, pronounced differently and meaning something different (lead, bow, ..) when that is done.  Due to these traits, it has been said that English is one of the, if not the, toughest languages to really master in the world if it’s not your native language. (Note: this is a generalization and every situation is different)  The basics are easy, but to really grasp the language takes real  immersion into the culture.

JavaScript feels the same to me.  If your native programming language uses similar concepts (Lisp, Scheme) then you’re probably good, but if you are among the majority coming from a C based language (C++, C#, Java..) you will likely have problems.  Sure, the basics are easy, it looks like your C based language, but mastering it can take a lot of time immersing yourself in its culture.

The question becomes this:  In today’s web environment, is it worth it to truly master the language?  The creator of JavaScript, Brendan Eich, casts his own doubts regarding his creations future:

I don’t really believe ES4 is a demon from the ancient world, of course. I’m afraid the JS-Hobbits are in trouble, though. As things stand today, Silverlight with C# or something akin (pushed via Windows Update) will raze the Shire-web, in spite of Gandalf-crock’s teachings.

Of course the Shire-web he refers to is the current status quo, and Gandalf is clearly Doug Crockford, one of (or perhaps THE) top authority on JavaScript.

My own experience have just recently brought me to an understanding of JavaScript that makes me feel like I finally really get it.

I feel like the <pick your Latin language based country here> who learned enough English when I was young to ask how much my dinner cost, where the bathroom is and to call a cab to get back to my hotel.  Finally, moving to the USA, living, working and playing with native English speakers I get the mastery of the language.

Having made that analogy, albeit a stretched one, I think I now have enough information to say, it depends.

What?  It depends?  I’ve just read this entire piece of junk for a non-answer!?!?  Well, yes.  Nothing in this life is black and white, or at least very few things are.  This includes JavaScript!

I really do think that JS’s multi-paradigm nature means there is no one-true-subset for all to use (whether they like it or not)

I feel JavaScript will of course be around for a long while.  While the web does need an overhaul, there are too many people and pages invested in JavaScript to make some grandiose statement that Silverlight, Flash, Air or whatever will replace it.  These new, powerful and exciting technologies have found ways to work with JavaScript and it is my belief that the world (wide web) will be a better place for it.

I also believe JavaScript will evolve, kicking and screaming if necessary.  I believe it will become more powerful for the programmer.  Of course, the problem with evolving JS is browser support and browser saturation.  The platforms must support it and people must upgrade.  That is the one advantage the other technologies have, at least for the moment.

If you feel you do not have the level of mastery you should have with JavaScript, I suggest immersing yourself with Doug Crockford’s writings.  It’s a great place to start.  Use jQuery as well since a lot of the examples you find force you to use patterns you may not have already investigated.  As with all things, practice and perseverance are the key!

Good luck on your journey, Grasshopper!

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3 thoughts on “JavaScript == English

  1. I see that Boris Johnson, the new London Mayor also, wants Latin to be taught in all London schools. However I would prefer Esperanto on the basis that it helps all language learning.
    Five British schools have introduced Esperanto in order to test its propaedeutic values. The pilot project is being monitored by the University of Manchester and the initial encouraging results can be seen at http://www.springboard2languages.org/Summary%20of%20evaluation,%20S2L%20Phase%201.pdf
    You might also like to see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

    Pope Gregrory also used this language this year in his Urbi et Orbi address from the Vatican, at Christmas.

    If you have time can I ask you to visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YHALnLV9XU and a glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

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