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Paamayim Nekudotayim: Straying from Convention with Hebrew

What can be said for the PHP authors who chose to use the term Paamayim Nekudotayim to describe one of the programming language’s operators? More often than not, when we of the “Western Civilization” need to come up with a term to describe something, such as a new Mathematical or Algebraic Forumla, an element of Linguistics, a part of the Human Anatomy, or any of countless things which need naming, it seems that the convention is to find the Latin derivative, and then to create a new word based on the Latin word, to use some part of the original Latin in the word itself, or in some way reference “the Latin”. When naming the Scope Resolution Operator (::) of PHP, however, the authors decided not to go to Latin for a name, but instead to reference the Hebrew language.

I find their decision to use Hebrew instead of Latin be interesting. I wonder why they chose to use the term Paamayim Nekudotayim, which essentially means ‘twice colon’ in Hebrew, instead of say (and i’m no Latin student, by any means!) Duo Exsequor, or something more “conventionally” recognizeable, for a more easily verbalized terminology? Why? Well– for one thing, they didn’t have to do anything! But, their choice to use something unconventional, something which would elicit the research of those who are interested, such as myself, I think says a lot about the very nature of this development group. It’s difficult, of course, to put that kind of a lable on a group of developers, but I think it is at least a reflection upon a “way of thought”, or an integrity, a purity of vision, or belief in the concept of breaking new ground, and forging the path.

Is this crazy talk? Have I gone off my rocker? I wonder. As usual, i just couldn’t help but jot it down as it came to mind– maybe it will further spark some thought in someone else.

UBC SunSITE
The University of British Columbia Mathematics Department
On-line Latin-English/English-Latin Dictionary (Java Client)

Paamayim Nekudotayim.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 6 Mar 2006, 17:28 UTC. 12 Mar 2006, 21:30


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