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jargon, language (MFTL) Describes a talk on a programminglanguage design that is heavy on syntax (with lots of
BNF), sometimes even talks about semantics (e.g. typesystems), but rarely, if ever, has any content (see
content-free). More broadly applied to talks - even when
the topic is not a programming language --- in which the
subject matter is gone into in unnecessary and meticulous
detail at the sacrifice of any conceptual content. "Well, it
was a typical MFTL talk".
2. A language about which the developers are passionate (often
to the point of prosyletic zeal) but no one else cares about.
Applied to the language by those outside the originating
group. "He cornered me about type resolution in his MFTL."
The first great goal in the mind of the designer of an MFTL is
usually to write a compiler for it, then bootstrap the design
away from contamination by lesser languages by writing a
compiler for it in itself. Thus, the standard put-down
question at an MFTL talk is "Has it been used for anything
besides its own compiler?". On the other hand, a language
that *cannot* be used to write its own compiler is beneath
Doug McIlroy once proposed a test of the generality and
utility of a language and the operating system under which
it is compiled: "Is the output of a Fortran program
acceptable as input to the Fortran compiler?" In other words,
can you write programs that write programs? Alarming numbers
of (language, OS) pairs fail this test, particularly when the
language is Fortran. Aficionados are quick to point out that
Unix (even using Fortran) passes it handily. That the test
could ever be failed is only surprising to those who have had
the good fortune to have worked only under modern systems
which lack OS-supported and -imposed "file types".