More Ramblings from a Los Angeles Programmer

July 3, 2007

Answer to my “Considered Harmful” poser

Filed under: daily life, linguistics, meta — Josh DeWald @ 3:02 pm

Immediately after I posed my question, I realized I should have asked Language Log (a great “language as it’s used” multi-contributor blog) first. I emailed one of the contributors (Mark Liberman specifically). Rather than just answer my question, he made a full Language Log post!

Of course, the first part of the article makes me realize how little research I did prior to my question. There’s a Wikipedia entry and if you do a Google search for “Considered Harmful” the Dijikstra article that I was thinking of is the first result (as I mentioned in my previous entry). Turns out that that wasn’t in fact the first usage, but seems to have started the trend. But if I hadn’t been thorough, then we wouldn’t all get the full analysis courtesy of Language Log.

Thanks guys!

Update: It helps if I link properly.

July 2, 2007

Considered Harmful?

Filed under: coding, linguistics, technology — Josh DeWald @ 5:55 pm

I’m just curious if anybody knows where the “<Something> Considered Harmful” idea came from? I have a vague sense that it was something LISP or programming language related, but I’m not at all certain of that.


Go To Statement Considered Harmful

 “Considered Harmful” Essays Considered Harmful

You know what’s hilarious…. I think the “Go To” one is the original… or at least that’s the one I was thinking of when I said “programming language related”.

My original search was specifically “origin on… ” or “source for…”. Perhaps I should have just searched for “Considered Harmful” as I did to locate references.

Update: I received a comment (and reread my post) and realized that it sounds like I’m saying “X” (as in the windowing system) is considered harmful. I mean basically where does “Considered Harmful” come from. Added examples.

December 20, 2006

“standing in line” vs “standing on line”

Filed under: linguistics — Josh DeWald @ 6:45 am

I definitely prefer and use “in line”, and based on user comments on here as well as other bits I’ve looked at it seems that “on line” originated in the New England area of the US.

Using the Google counting method of voting:

quoted phrases:

41K results

1M results

I don’t know when people starting using “on line”, but I actually think it was before the web became popular (I’ve seen it in books that are pretty old) but I started noticing it a couple of years ago and it still sounds rather awkward to my ears.

What’s your preference?

Update: I just woke up and noticed that the 2nd entry for the “stand in line” search was a “Dialect Survey” by the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Lingustics Department showing that most people prefer “in line.” Yeah, that’s right.

Update (11/29/2007): Reader Brendan pointed out that I didn’t quote each of my queries, which was especially important because “on line” is hugely popular. After doing that, “standing in line”clearly wins with about 1.4M results vs 32K for “standing on line.” Yeah, that’s right 🙂

Update (9/30/2009): Many commenters have pointed out that this seems to come up a lot in New York (and New England). I was just watching 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanely Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, released in 1968. I noticed “on line” being used and looked up and it turns out that Kubrick was born in New York. So take of that what you will. This also is evidence that it is definitely not a new or recent phrase.

Update (11/10/2009):  Added the actual quoted version of the links. This replaced the old versions that didn’t have the quotes:

114M results:

53M results:

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