Natural languages are sequential. Everything depends implicitly on anything that has been said before, and which builds up a context. VonNeumannArchitecture
computers and traditional computing languages are based upon this model of language. Rhetorics are an early attempt to tackle this (predating philosophy!). -- MarcGirod
The characters in GregEgan
's novel Diaspora
have 2 languages, one called linear
and one call gestalt
. The first corresponds to speech, the second, sight.
Writing sequentially is unnecessary (and boring!). Often in good literature, many statements are left ambiguous until context is filled in later. SciFi
is really good at this. Often, the context foreign to our own and has to be built over time. But until that happens, "Trim looked out over his slave farm," can't be unambiguously understood, nor can "The repitilian bus slithered across the pavement." In the previous case, is the farm a slave, or is a farm of slaves? In the latter, is the bus really reptilian, or is it merely a metaphor?
The experienced SciFi
reader will suspend these questions until later when she learns that, indeed, on this planet organic life forms are used as machinery and that, in order to manufacture, or farm
, these "machines," "slave" farms grow components for their "master" farms that assemble the final "machine." Thus, the additional context has clarified previous
Indeed, only a list of imperative instructions need to be in linear, temporal order. You can hardly write a cake recipe in random order: Put bowl into oven. Whip eggs. Crack egg open into bowl.
But you can change the order up to the limit of dependency
For more discussion on context, please see MeatballWiki http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?WhatIsContext
Pour batter into pan. But first, grease the pan.
"Make the incision. Oops. Anesthetize the patient first. Sorry." --MontyPython
Ah, so this is why PrologLanguage