First-Taught Stubbornness

:: Racket, lojban

I have noticed that when I am taught something a certain way and then am told "you could do it that way, but here’s another way...", I tend to stick to the first way stubbornly.

Back in my programming classes, I can recall a few times when my teacher would teach us one way of doing something and then then a second, equivalent way, which then leaves choosing which way up to the programmer as mere style. More often than not, I would choose the first way, because that’s, like, OG, or something, even though I had only learned the first way the week or so before.

Say, for instance, Racket’s two ways of defining procedures:

(define foo (λ (bar baz bin . quux) ...))

versus

(define (foo bar baz bin . quux) ...)

The first way is literal in the sense that you are defining ‘foo‘ as a procedure while the second is "syntactic sugar" meaning the same thing as the first. I would also use let for local variables even though I knew local defines would work just as well. Then I read the Racket Style Guide that encouraged the syntactic sugar form as well as local define’s. It wasn’t really a conscious "I must follow the Style Guide!", I just started to follow it, eventually thinking it weird I ever used the first way.

This was all brought about because in lojban, when you are doing certain grammatical forms, you indicate you are beginning that form with a word (like parentheses) and then ending with another word. The ending word for a grammatical form may sometimes be elidible, but when I heard that I thought to myself "Eh, I’ll just keep using the closing word anyway, since it’s grammatically correct in both ways". Then, in lesson eight of the Wave lessons, there was this example:

.au da’i mi djica lo nu le merko poi tunba mi vau ku’o ku jimpe lo du’u mi na nelci lo nu vo’a darxi mi vau kei ku vau kei ku vau kei ku vau

Which as we all know, means "I wish the American, who is my sibling, would understand that I don’t like it that they hit me."

All those parts in bold are elidible grammatical markers that say when a certain form is completed - notice at the end of the sentence there’s nothing but markers! It’s overly verbose and I would be very certain that if one were to actually say all of those, the people listen would scratch their heads. It’s now obvious that stubbornly refusing to omit properly elidible things is just silliness. Certainly, they won’t always be elidible (or maybe keeping them in would make things more clear), but that sentence just above shows me that my previous way of thinking nothing more than stubbornness.