Kotangent

Programming Punctuation Poem

by Brian Koser

I’ve been on somewhat of a punctuation kick lately, and I remembered a poem:

< > ! * ' ' #
^ " ` $ $ -
! * = @ $ _
% * < > ~ # 4
& [ ] . . /
| { , , SYSTEM HALTED

This doesn’t seem like much of a poem until you realize that programmers have different names for punctuation than English professors. When reading code it’s much easier to say “bang” than to say “exclamation point”, and programmers are nothing if not efficient (which is to say, we’re lazy). Here’s the translation:

<    >    !    *     '    '    #
Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,

^     "     `         $      $      -
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,

!    *     =     @  $      _
Bang splat equal at dollar underscore,

%       *     <    >    ~     #      4
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,

&         [       ]       .   .   /
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,

|            {             ,     ,     SYSTEM HALTED
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Kudos to the authors Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese, who got the poem printed in the May/June 1990 issue of Infocus magazine.