[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

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by Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 04, 2004

I just ordered a copy of The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax, which, among other things, debunks the stories about how Eskimos have lots of words for snow.

Now for the bit that only Hebrew speakers are going to understand.

No matter how debunked Whorf is, I'm still convinced that Israelis are more likely to do things דווקא, simply because they have a word for it. And I have been forced to write entire essays simply because I cannot find any other way to convey to English speakers the difference between ראש גדול and ראש קטן. All I wanted to say was that methodologies encourage ראש קטן and I need everyone on my team to be ראש גדול.

To someone who has never learned Hebrew it takes me two or three books to explain that. MSF is a fraud–an attempt to consolidate all the ראש גדול things Microsoft programmers do in a set of rules which are supposed to work if you force ראש קטן bizonim to implement them. And it’s never going to work.

I have been trying to translate this simple concept to English for years and am just about ready to give up. The Joel on Software award for excellence in technical translation will go to the person who can best express the preceding two paragraphs in English!


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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