• There are natural languages (e.g. English, French, German) and programming languages (e.g. Java, Scala, Python).
  • Natural languages are usually Context Sensitive.
    A word often has multiple meanings based on the context.
  • Most programming languages are Context Free.

Chomsky Hierarchy

Noam Chomsky, a famous linguist, defined a hierarchy for languages and grammars.

Courses on Automata Theory and Formal Languages, Programming Languages, Compiling Techniques cover the Chomsky hierarchy and its applications

Basics of a Language

A language has

  • Syntax (rules for forming well defined constructs)
  • Semantics (meaning)
  • Pragmatics (usage)

In our younger days, we had to study English Grammar book (by Wren and Martin) and Burmese Grammar book (by Saya U Pe Maung Tin).

Sample syntax for English :

  • A sentence is a sequence of Subject (S), Verb (V) and Object (O).
  • The cat killed the rat. (Example of active voice using the pattern SVO).
  • The rat was killed by the rat. (Example of passive voice using the pattern OVS).

Myanmar Sar (Burmese Language)

  • Burmese language has a structure similar to the Japanese language.
    Both languages have a structure different to the English language.
  • Sentences in Burmese usually have verbs at the end of a sentence,

Kyundaw Kyaung Thoe Thwa Thee (in Burmese)
is similar in structure to
Watashi was gakko e ikimasu (in Japanese)

Direct (word for word) translation into English would yield
I school to go

The equivalent grammatically correct English sentence would be
I go to school

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