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Clojure syntax looks like a cross between common lisp and javascript, but it manages to be the most popular lisp around by a country mile. On the one hand I find it distasteful, on the other hand it hasn't seemed to hurt adoption. I don't know if it drove adoption though - it's probably more likely due to the fact the inventor of the language is a charismatic and prolific speaker. But I digress...

I kind of agree with you. I don't think "softening" the syntax of a concatenative languages is going to help much, and is more likely to drive away the kind of PL dabblers who are interested in concatenative languages in the first place. The vast majority of programmers will never try anything that doesn't resemble ALGOL at least a bit. It's a lost cause to try and reel them in.

IMO, the best way for nice languages to thrive is to be simple enough that it's easy for a small number of people to maintain, and powerful enough that the implementation and standard library can be constructed in as few LOC as possible to minimize bugs. Being able to attach itself to an existing large ecosystem with a minimum of fuss (ie, embedable in C or Java interop) also seems to be a great trojan horse.




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