This question appeared in my Quora digest today:
If programming languages were countries, which country would each language represent?
John Purcell‘s brilliant answer:
Java: USA — optimistic, powerful, likes to gloss over inconveniences.
C++: UK — strong and exacting, but not so good at actually finishing things and tends to get overtaken by Java.
Python: The Netherlands. “Hey no problem, let’sh do it guysh!”
Ruby: France. Powerful, stylish and convinced of its own correctness, but somewhat ignored by everyone else.
Assembly language: India. Massive, deep, vitally important but full of problems.
Cobol: Russia. Once very powerful and written with managers in mind; but has ended up losing out.
SQL and PL/SQL: Germany. A solid, reliable workhorse of a language.
Scala: Hungary. Technically pure and correct, but suffers from an unworkable obsession with grammar that will limit its future success.
C: Norway. Tough and dynamic, but not very exciting.
PHP: Brazil. Full of beauty and flouts itself a lot, but secretly very conservative.
LISP: Iceland. Incredibly clever and well-organised, but icy and remote.
Perl: China. Able to do apparently almost anything, but rather inscrutable.
Swift: Japan. One minute it’s nowhere, the next it’s everywhere and your mobile phone relies on it.
C#: Switzerland. Beautiful and well thought-out, but expect to pay a lot if you want to get seriously involved.
R: Liechtenstein. Probably really amazing, especially if you’re into big numbers, but no-one knows what it actually does.
Awk: North Korea. Stubbornly resists change, and its users appear to be unnaturally fond of it for reasons we can only speculate on.