What To Call A Language - Mathematica Has a Problem
Written by Mike James   
Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mathematica is an application for doing math but it also has a complete programming language embedded within it. The problem is that it doesn't have a name. Want to help find it one?


Computer languages need a name if they are going to have any sort of life. Imagine if JavaScript was just the language you found inside a web page with no name of its own? How could you say I wrote it in.... or I'm a ,,, programmer and so on. No section all to itself in a bookshop and no way of distinguishing between the application and the language.

This is the problem that the Mathematica language has - no name. Mathematica consists of a math engine, a user interface and a programming language. If you go to buy a book say on programming Mathematica then you can't search for a particular language you have to search for "programming Mathematica" and hope the you find what you are looking for.


Now Stephen Wolfram has a blog post explaining that he always intended to name the language but he isn't good at names. So now is the time to put things right and find a name.

He admits that internally it was called "M Language" which seems quite good, but with some possible clashes and unhelpful similarities to C and so on. Recently the internal name has been Wolfram Language which makes the connection with other Wolfram products. Other internal suggestions are Lingua, Express (as in expression) and from the Mathematica community we have: Principia, Harmony, Unity and Tongue in which bugs would be "slips of the Tongue". A famous intern at Wolfram, one Sergey Brin (yes that Sergey Brin - Google it if you don't know who he is) suggested Thema because it was the heart of MaTHEMAtic...

The bottom line, however, is that for commercial reasons the name has to have "Wolfram" in it somewhere and so the suggestions move on to - Wolframese, Wolframic, Wolfari and so on. They all sound like something from Lord Of The Rings so let's hope something better turns up soon.

There are lots and lots more suggestions in the blog and lots of explorations of the semantics of the possible names and connections with Latin, classics, and classic languages. There are just short of 200 comments to the blog post and they all make entertaining reading. But with so many suggestions, I'm not sure that any of this makes the naming of the language any easier...but do join in...


More Information

What Should We Call the Language of Mathematica?

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