As a trained linguist and former university language instructor, people often assume that my natural language (spoken, signed, or written) learning analysis background made learning to code easier for me. They might say something like “That makes sense, they’re languages, right? They have syntax.” These casual comments seem true on the surface when talking about parts of speech and variable types. But once you dig deeper, it becomes clear that there are far more differences than similarities between these types of languages despite the shared name. However, many skills and methods I have utilized in learning languages as an adult and teaching languages to adults have served me well as a developer. This talk first addresses key points of divergence between learning a natural language and a programming language. Perhaps most importantly, natural languages are meant for communicating with people and programming languages are meant for giving a computer directions.

However, many areas of overlap exist in learning and perfecting these skills; these shared aspects of learning are the primary focus of this talk.


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Darren Wright at 16:56 on 21 Apr 2018

Informative and unique view upon language styles.

Ed Barnard at 19:46 on 22 Apr 2018

Rebekah's was easily the most delightful presentation I experienced this week. She came at known material from a distinctly different direction. This encourages deeper thinking about what it is we do. Her anecdotes and personal history added to the experience and made the talk more relatable.