Doug Hoyte’s book Let Over Lambda is refreshingly opinionated. I don’t share the author’s opinions, but I appreciate his conviction. Hoyte is a zealous advocate for Lisp, and yet he admires Perl as a sort of anti-Lisp. He even calls Perl “beautiful” as far as non-Lisp languages go.
Hoyte argues that Lisp is the greatest programming language because its minimal (i.e. practically non-existent) syntax makes Lisp macro programming powerful. But if you’re going to have language syntax that prevents this style of programming, you might as well go for broke and have lots and lots of syntax.
If we have to have [non-Lisp] syntax — eliminating the possibility of macros — we may as well extend it as far as possible. Let’s throw in all the possible conveniences and power-user tricks we can think of. If Lisp is the result of taking syntax away, Perl is the result of taking syntax all the way.
I understand that Lisp’s lack of syntax opens interesting possibilities. I also understand the advantages of a rich syntax—provided you (and everyone you work with) have mastered the language and use it frequently enough to keep it loaded in your head. However, I prefer a moderate amount of syntax, somewhere between Lisp and Perl, though I admit this may simply be because that’s what I am accustomed to.
Related post: Periodic table of Perl operators