TITLE: The Pleasure in a Good Name AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 01, 2012 8:56 AM DESC: ----- BODY: Guile is a Scheme. It began life as GEL, which stood for GNU Extension Language. This brief history of Guile explains the change:
Due to a naming conflict with another programming language, Jim Blandy suggested a new name for GEL: "Guile". Besides being a recursive acronym, "Guile" craftily follows the naming of its ancestors, "Planner", "Conniver", and "Schemer". (The latter was truncated to "Scheme" due to a 6-character file name limit on an old operating system.) Finally, "Guile" suggests "guy-ell", or "Guy L. Steele", who, together with Gerald Sussman, originally discovered Scheme.
That is how you name a language, making it significant on at least three levels. Recursive acronyms are a staple of the GNU world, beginning with GNU itself. Guile recurses as the GNU Ubiquitous Intelligent Language for Extensions. Synonymny with Planner and Conniver keeps alive the historical connection to artificial intelligence, and is reinforced by the use of intelligent in the acronym. Finally, the homophonic connection to Steele is pure genius. I bow to you, Mr. Blandy. (While we are talking about words, I must say that I love the author's use of discovered in the passage quoted above. Most people say that Steele and Sussman "created" Scheme, or "designed" it, or "invented" it. But if you read Steele's and Gabriel's The Evolution of Lisp, you will see that discovery is a better label for what happened. Scheme was lurking in the implementation of Lisp's apply primitive and Carl Hewitt's theory of actors. Hewitt, of course, created Planner, which is another connection back to Guile.) -----