Last night I was visiting some friends and got into a very interesting discussion with them. Somehow we got onto the subject of language and language development. My friend (who is into computers and programming and therefore a nerd of a much higher order than myself) made the case that computer languages are equivalent (in the communication sense) to other languages such as English, French, Spanish, etc. He said that the computer languages are functionally equivalent to English and other languages because it fulfills the same task of communicating an idea.
I disagreed, saying that computer languages are really just an elaborate set of instructions, and nothing more. You couldn’t translate the Bible into C++ for instance, nor could you use it to express an abstract idea.
But he countered by saying that you could use a computer programming language to construct a program that would communicate an abstract idea, without necessarily using any words. So communication would take place, although indirectly.
I’ve decided to take this question to the SDMB (which he had never heard of, can you imagine such a deprived life?). I know there are computer programmers out there reading this, and I hope that there are a few linguists as well. Care to chime in on this question? Can computer programming languages be considered functionally equivalent to English, etc.?
I’ll be sending him the URL link to this thread so he’ll be able to see the answers, too.