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candygrammar /n./ A programming-language grammar that is
mostly syntactic sugar; the term is also a play on
`candygram'. COBOL, Apple's Hypertalk language, and a lot
of the so-called `4GL' database languages share this property.
The usual intent of such designs is that they be as English-like as
possible, on the theory that they will then be easier for unskilled
people to program. This intention comes to grief on the reality
that syntax isn't what makes programming hard; it's the mental
effort and organization required to specify an algorithm precisely
that costs. Thus the invariable result is that `candygrammar'
languages are just as difficult to program in as terser ones, and
far more painful for the experienced hacker.
[The overtones from the old Chevy Chase skit on Saturday Night Live
should not be overlooked. This was a "Jaws" parody.
Someone lurking outside an apartment door tries all kinds of bogus
ways to get the occupant to open up, while ominous music plays in
the background. The last attempt is a half-hearted "Candygram!"
When the door is opened, a shark bursts in and chomps the poor
occupant. There is a moral here for those attracted to
candygrammars. Note that, in many circles, pretty much the same
ones who remember Monty Python sketches, all it takes is the word
"Candygram!", suitably timed, to get people rolling on the
floor. -- GLS]
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