[Pdx-pm] Lisp class

Jeff Zucker jeff at vpservices.com
Sun May 1 11:10:44 PDT 2005

Ben Kirkpatrick wrote:

>>Really? can you name some of these studies which say that this ability 
>>is progressively degenerative with age beyond a fairly young cut-off for 
>>early childhood language acquisition?
>In the studies I've seen, a child learning a language has a better chance
>of speaking it with the same accent as a native.  An adult would have to
>spend a lot of time with a therapist to get the details correct.
Yes, I've seen studies to that effect. They are about pronunciation, not 
understanding and therefore are completely irrelevant to a discussion of 
programming languages. That is, unless you've noticed a difference in 
programming ability between those who pronounce "lib" as in "liberty" 
rather than as "library" and "bin" as in "trash bin" rather than as in 

>So it really means that as you age you are less likely to perfect/acquire
>a new language.  But there is certainly no accounting for determination.
Yes, that's right. And "less likely" is by definition a relative term. 
To make generalizations that person X is less likely to be able to learn 
new programming languages because they are age Y is to ignore the many 
more important factors such as motivation, interests, mental habits, 
previous learning experiences, etc.

BTW, does someone have a link to where Paul Graham talks about age and 
programming ability?

>As an aside, I seem to remember a story about a Hungarian gentleman who
>taught himself Icelandic from a single book.
Someone should go arrest the guy for violating the laws of nature :-).


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