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Re: [External] : Re: Shrinking the C core

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: [External] : Re: Shrinking the C core
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2023 20:40:20 -0400

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I implemented Common Lisp for the Lisp Machine in 1983.
That included the generic sequence functions with their
many keyword arguments.

In 1984 I wrote Emacs Lisp and decided to omit all that.
I have no regrets.  Their absence makes Emacs Lisp easier to use.

Keyword arguments are fine for an unusual, heavyweight operation such
as creating a frame.  The sort of function whose doc you need to look
up again each time you use it.  When something is as cumbersome as
that, the question of how to pass the arguments is a pile of minor
details that you'll see when you look it up.

But it's a pain in the neck to make simple everyday functions such as
`append' and `length' that cumbersome just for the sake of following a
general system.  Part of this system is that the default argument
values follow the system, rather than following the traditional Lisp
functions -- so getting the traditional behavior requires actually
specifying the keyword arguments to override defaults, almost every

Switching to Common Lisp would cause those painful incompatibilities.
It is unacceptable.

Defining the CL functions with a name prefix is ok, because the
traditional Lisp functions are still available compatibly and we don't
have to use the CL functions.  This is what we have now.

Dr Richard Stallman (https://stallman.org)
Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project (https://gnu.org)
Founder, Free Software Foundation (https://fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (https://internethalloffame.org)

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