First Things First

For his keynote address at the 1998 ACM OOPSLA conference, Sun Microsystems computer scientist Guy Steele illustrated the value of growing a computer language by growing the language of his talk itself, starting with words of one syllable and using these to build new definitions that permit increasing sophistication.

“For this talk, I chose to take as my primitives all the words of one syllable, and no more, from the language I use for most of my speech each day, which is called English. My firm rule for this talk is that if I need to use a word of two or more syllables, I must first define it.”

(Via MetaFilter.)