One of my favourite words.

In a paper written by Richard Holt (University of Toronto) in 1973, he described teaching introductory programming using PL/I, which he aptly titled “Teaching the Fatal Disease”. Computer scientists of the 1960s and 70s certainly had a knack for not holding back on their opinions of certain languages, often with the use of humour. Of course the idea of PL/I being a fatal disease came from Dijkstra’s comment in Introduction to the Art of Computer Programming : “If Fortran has been called an infantile disorder, PL/I must be classified as a fatal disease.

In the paper he calls Fortran’s control structures antediluvian. What a great word. Now it means “ridiculously old fashioned”, or “belonging to the period before the Biblical flood”. The Latin words “ante”, before, and “diluvium” meaning flood related more to the later meaning. It’s not even the meaning of the word, it’s the way it sounds.

Scotty, engage the antediluvian drive matrix.


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