But that said, the main difference between Hoon line noise and Perl line noise is that most of the ASCII we use has a very regular structure, with a (relatively) limited set of exceptions. So it looks about equally alien at first, but the Hoon ideogram (digraph) set should be easier to learn. Unfortunately at present the set of people who know it is very small - so the theory really hasn't been tested.
It is what it is. But at least there's no Unicode. (Not that you can't have Unicode in strings, of course.)
And anyone who doesn't like line noise has to stand up for reserved words. Some of us welcome that conversation...
The unicode-in-strings but not in variables/etc bothers me about Java (coming from Go, where unicode is allowed in variables). It seems inconsistent to have two separate character sets for different semantic subsections of what is a single text file.
What about unicode in comments? If I put a string in a comment can it go there?
Restricting symbols to a strict subset, rather than a strict superset, of global keyboards in practice, is about cultural literacy in practice.
If you put unicode in variables, perhaps because you're using a national keyboard with special unicode powers, your code will be extremely hard to work with for programmers using a different national keyboard. Thus, even if you could do it, you shouldn't.
Now, the symbols on American programmers' keyboards are not all on every keyboard in the world - but pretty much every programmer in the world knows how to find them. Thus, sticking with ASCII is basically sensible use of Postel's Law in the language design context.
In comments - it should be ok but I think it breaks right now. Not a high priority bug, but definitely a bug.