Clojure-Thamil and privilege of programming in English

Elango Cheran, a developer in Silicon Valley, CA, USA, has been quitely developing a powerful macro-based framework of Tamil programming capabilities on top of Clojure. He has also added various tools on this platform, even tools with teeth – i.e. converting encoding from various Tamil encoding standards, and implementing santhi rules etc.

I found his blog post on his efforts in programming in Tamil to be highly persuasive, and make a strong case of programming literacy in the vernacular. I concur with some of the views expressed on ability to reach a literate audience in their vernacular without having to be pigeonholed in English language.

A few observations on the capabilities of unicode identifier aware languages like JavaScript, CLISP, and then languages with rich Unicode support like Java and Python. My own steps in exploring such translation-based support for Tamil have included TamilScript; Ezhil effort is fullblown, in comparison, in effort and time invested there.

Lisp has affordance of also being grammatically similar to Tamil than English in structure – i..e. predicate expression based structures. CLISP, and JavaScript also offer non-ASCII identifiers and can achieve somewhat of same effect like macro’s you have pointed out.

The socio-cultural need to open up world of programming to vernacular speakers has continued to haunt technology penetration/access. The field of native language programs has few leading lights. We need more players, and time to build developer interest here.


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