Thursday, February 14, 2008

syntax error

In reading Speech, Writing, Code, I found Hayles’ point that “in code the breaks are much sharper and more complete than with either speech or writing” particularly interesting. Our understanding of text is much less rigid and more flexible than that of a computer. If there is any error or irregularity in the code, or it is too outdated, a computer will not understand it. On the other hand, we, albeit through some effort, are able to decipher the meaning of a text riddled with syntax errors. I was somehow reminded of the e-mail and instant messages that some of my friends write. There would be punctuation marks inserted into the middle of sentences or of rather interestingly spelled words, or representing certain letters of those words. While I think that for them, there was a certain aesthetic appeal to the punctuation that would break up the text and the odd spelling of words that could draw attention to them, I thought these messages also really brought to light how much more forgiving we are in terms of syntax errors or irregularities. Even though the text may be a bit on the mangled side in terms of spelling and grammar, unlike a computer which would just not be able to execute the code, we can still figure out what is being written and communicated through the text.

No comments: