A Guide to Programming Languages

Modern programming languages borrow countless features from each other, making it difficult for even the most expert programmer to tell them apart. This Guide to Programming Languages may be helpful in solving such dilemmas. It is offered as a public service, courtesy of a number of Federal Government data processing employees who wish to remain anonymous.

C
You shoot yourself in the foot.

Assembly
You crash the OS and overwrite the root disk. The system administrator arrives and shoots you in the foot. After a moment of contemplation, the administrator shoots himself in the foot and then hops around the room rabidly shooting at everyone in sight.

APL
You heard a gunshot, and there's a hole in your foot, but you don't remember enough linear algebra to understand what the hell happened.

C++
You accidentally create a dozen instances of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical care is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just pointing at others and saying, "that's me, over there."

ADA
If you are dumb enough to actually use this language, the United States Department of Defense will kidnap you, stand you up in front of a firing squad, and tell the soldiers, "Shoot at his feet."

Modula/2
After realizing that you can't actually accomplish anything in this language, you shoot yourself in the head.

sh, csh
You can't remember the syntax for anything, so you spend five hours reading man pages before giving up. You then shoot the computer and switch to C.

Smalltalk
You spend so much time playing with the graphics and windowing system that your boss shoots you in the foot, takes away your workstation, and makes you develop in COBOL on a character terminal.

FORTRAN
You shoot yourself in each toe, iteratively, until you run out of toes, then read in the next foot and repeat. If you run out of bullets, you continue anyway because you have no exceptionprocessing ability.

Algol
You shoot yourself in the foot with a musket. The musket is esthetically fascinating, and the wound baffles the adolescent medic in the emergency room.

COBOL
USEing a COLT45 HANDGUN, AIM gun at LEG.FOOT, THEN place ARM.HAND.FINGER on HANDGUN.TRIGGER, and SQUEEZE. THEN return HANDGUN to HOLSTER. Check whether shoelaces need to be retied.

BASIC
Shoot self in foot with a water pistol. On big systems, continue until entire lower body is waterlogged.

PL/I
You consume all available system resources, including all the offline bullets. The Data Processing and Payroll Department doubles its size, triples its budget, acquires four new mainframes, and drops the original one on your foot.

SNOBOL
You grab your foot with your hand, then rewrite your hand to be a bullet. The act of shooting the original foot then changes your hand/bullet into yet another foot (a left foot).

lisp
you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun ...

scheme
you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun ... but none of the other appendages are aware of this happening.

English
You put your foot in your mouth, then bite it off. (For those who don't know, English is a McDonnell Douglas / PICK query language which allegedly requires 110% of system resources to run happily.)

INFORMIX
The first gun doesn't work. Three months later INFORMIX's support desk sends another gun which doesn't match the version number of the bullets. INFORMIX suggests you upgrade to INFORMIX-ONLINE. You pull the trigger and your shoe gets wet.

ORACLE
ORACLE sells you a gun, a box of bullets, a holster, a cardboard mock-up of a wild-west town, and a stetson. You find the trigger, which takes 27 people to pull. ORACLE provides 26 consultants, all with holsters, cardboard mock-ups, and stetsons. The bullet doesn't leave the gun barrel and you hire four more ORACLE consultants to optimise. The bullet bounces off of your sandals. You decide to buy INGRES. Richard Donkin shoots you in the foot.

INGRES
You pull the trigger, and your identical twin in San Francisco gets shot. You then turn off distributed query optimization.

SYBASE
You carelessly invoke the procedure sp_insert_bullet() which fires a trigger (neah, eh?) on the table GUN. To maintain referential integrity, the system invokes another trigger which inserts bullets in your other foot, your shins, your thighs, and so on up to the cranium. You are left in third normal form.

OCCAM
You send a message to your finger, which sends a message to the trigger, which sends a message to the firing pin, which sends a message to the primer, which sends a message to the firing charge, which sends a message to the bullet, which sends a very unpleasant message to your foot. The pipeline continues to run, a hail of bullets emerging from the output channel and drilling their way via your foot to the center of the earth. The high velocity arrival of such stupendous amounts of lead creates a a density shockwave which eventually collapses beyond its own event horizon. The black hole thus formed goes on to absorb the Earth, most of the minor planets, and the Sun. The problems of your foot become increasingly insignificant during this process. Hyperintelligent beings from the planet Zorg nod their several heads wisely and confide to each other: "I always said Tony was a complete twit."

Forth
First you decide to leave the number of toes lost on the stack and then implement the word foot-toes@ which takes three numbers from the stack: foot number, range, and projectile mass (in slugs) and changes the current vocabulary to 'blue'. While testing this word you are arrested by the police for mooning (remember, this is a bottom-up language) who demonstrate the far better top-down approach to damaging yourself.

RTL
You start to really shoot yourself in the foot, but 6 slugs is too many for an array and blows the compiler to pieces. Eventually you realize you must rebuild the compiler to allow such huge arrays. This is so stupid and boring that you start to shoot yourself, but just in time you are interrupted by ...

[strange spellings are unchanged from the original source]


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