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English is the lingua franca for writing computer programs. There are roughly 8,945 programming languages according to the Online Historical Encyclopaedia of Programming Languages (HOPL) and a majority of them are in English since most of the early advancements in technology came from the USA, Britain and Canada and other English-speaking countries.
Some of the newer languages that came from other countries like Python from Netherlands or Lua from Brazil are also in English because of how widespread the use of English syntax is across the world.
There are syntax options that offer localised programming languages like Citrine that allows users to program in their native language. There is also APL, an array based programming language that uses a range of graphic symbols. Quorum and Bootstrap are for individuals that are blind or with sensorimotor disabilities. Though a few languages are localised, they remove the barrier of a foreign language or disabilities for young coders, build on localised documentation and software development.
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Here are some of the popular non-English programming languages.
Also known as ‘Chinese Python’, this is a programming language that allows developers to write Python code using Chinese keywords and syntax. It isn’t a separate language but a variation of Python. It uses Python as its backend, which means that Zhpy code can be executed by a Python interpreter.
It allows developers to leverage the existing Python ecosystem and libraries while writing code in Chinese. It is commonly used in mainland China and Singapore. Traditional Chinese characters, used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, are not the focus of Zhpy. It is an open-source project hosted on GitHub, which means that anyone can contribute to its development and improvement.
In 1993, Yukihiro Matsumoto created Ruby in Japan. He wanted to build an object-oriented programming language that could also be used for scripting. When originally published, Ruby had a Japanese section which was much more comprehensive. The Japanese Ruby community actively contributes to its development and evolution. They organise events, conferences, and meetings, such as RubyKaigi, which is one of the largest Ruby conferences held annually in Japan.
The Japanese Ruby community works on translating documentation, error messages, and programming resources into Japanese, ensuring that Japanese developers can work with Ruby more comfortably. The community has contributed numerous Ruby ‘gems’ (libraries) tailored specifically to Japanese development needs. These gems address various aspects, such as text processing, date and time handling, internationalisation, and more.
The language has gained popularity in French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Russian languages. These translations, while not comprehensive, provide localised content to help developers from non-English speaking regions better understand and utilise Haxe. Additionally, user groups and events organised in various countries often provide sessions and presentations in local languages, further supporting developers in those regions.
Qalb, the Arabic programming language developed by Ramsey Nasser, aims to provide a user-friendly and accessible coding experience for Arabic speakers. It has similar syntax and grammar rules as Lisp and Scheme and other programming languages. Qalb eliminates the language barrier that many Arabic-speaking individuals face when programming in English. It allows people to learn and practice programming concepts in their native language, which can make it easier for beginners to grasp the fundamentals of coding.
It offers an easy-to-learn approach to programming, enabling users to implement complex programs without the need to navigate through jargon or complicated syntax found in languages like C++.
Founded by Boris Nuraliev in Moscow, Russia, in 1991, 1C Company is a software developer, distributor, and publisher. In 1992, the company released ‘1C:Accounting’,” a bookkeeping software that gained immense popularity due to its simplicity, extensive customisation options.
As a result, 1C:Accounting became the most widely used accounting program in Russia and the former USSR states. Headquartered in Moscow, 1C Company is involved in the development, manufacturing, licensing, support, and sale of computer software, related services, and video games. 1C:Enterprise offers a low-code approach with ready-to-use infrastructure and visual editing tools. It follows a domain-driven design methodology and incorporates a high-level object-oriented language.
It holds a significant share of the Russian enterprise software market and has expanded its presence to countries like the US, Germany, Romania, Poland, Italy, Spain, and Vietnam. The platform supports various database management systems, includes pre-configured building blocks, and is available in multiple languages such as Russian, English, and Chinese.
Citrine is a programming language that places a strong emphasis on localisation as its core feature. It is designed to be translatable into every written human language, allowing developers to write code in their preferred language. For example, the West Frisian version of Citrine is known as Citrine/FY.
One of the key aspects of Citrine’s localisation is the translation of keywords, numbers, and punctuation into the target language. This means that developers can write code using keywords that are familiar and meaningful in their own language. Additionally, numbers and punctuation marks are also localised to match the conventions of the target language.
Citrine’s commitment to localisation is extensive, as it aims to support all natural human languages, not just well-known ones. By providing extensive language support, Citrine allows developers from diverse linguistic backgrounds to write code in their native language, making programming more accessible and inclusive. This approach acknowledges the importance of language and culture in programming and seeks to bridge the language barrier for developers around the world.