Latin 90

Professor Kard has been at the university for as long as anyone can remember, going back indeed to when everyone in the department spoke Latin on a daily basis. It is Kard's unshakable belief that things have gone down-hill ever since. "1H ,30HSMALL LETTERS ARE A NEOLOGISM," he always Hollers in faculty meetings, pointing out that classical writers couldn't possibly have used them. In our department, you can't say that the rules aren't carved in stone, as it is in stone that Kard did his best work thirty-five years ago, continues to do his work, and intends to go on doing his work.

The academic journals have grown in the last thirty-five years. While it is hard to believe, Kard used to carve out his fluid- dynamics calculations on tiny 4-kilobyte stone tablets. Now he thinks nothing of allocating half a gigabyte (statically, since that's the only way he knows how), but he still does everything in Latin. Latin, in case you think I'm prejudiced, is a fine language for talking about gladiators and chariots and even for discussing Spinoza, but it stretches the vocabulary to solve differential equations in it, let alone write operating systems or look at chaotic trajectories. Kard's papers are unreadable by anyone else.

Things got a little better around 1977, when a few (then) junior professors bullied him into structuring his DO loops and adding a few modern words. His code, however, still looked like Latin.

Just the other day, Kard met me in the hallway (ave!) and started talking excitedly (forgive the free translation). "I'm finally going to get the rest of you to go back to talking Latin," he said. "How's that, Kard?" "I've thought about your objections, about the missing vocabulary and syntax" -- a few of us had recently been pestering him over structures and classes, although at the time none of it seemed to be sinking in, except to elicit the occasional comment about how anything worth doing could be done in the ablative -- "and I think I can meet your objections, on your own terms.

"While strictly speaking it has no classical precedent, I've spent the last ten months building on the language, adding four new cases, five tenses, six conjugations, three-hundred-sixty new verbs, and 1144 new nouns. The grammar book, alas, no longer fits in the pocket, but at least you and the rest can stop complaining about the lack of flexibility. I call the modified language 'Latin-90'."

He was true to his word. Latin-90 had all the structure and object orientation a writer could ask for. It accepted lower case letters (translating them internally to upper case), allowed for recursive argumentation, and discarded any special meaning column 72 might once have had. Julius Caesar wouldn't have been able to distinguish it from Gallic.

To the rest of us, unfortunately, it still looks like Latin. It doesn't help that Kard has yet to produce a working set of chisels for it, and that the only papers written in Latin-90 still sit in Kard's brain. At least he put Holleramus constants to rest and no longer requires six spaces before each genitive. He'll probably be able to get some better work done in Latin-90, if he ever implements it. In the meantime, I shall continue to write in the vernacular.