Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Eric S. Raymo » Fri, 30 Nov 1990 02:56:59



========= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 2.1.5 28 NOV 1990  =================

INTRODUCTION
   This `jargon file' is a collection of slang terms used by various
subcultures of computer hackers.

   The original `jargon file' was a collection of hacker slang from
technical cultures including 1) the MIT AI Lab, 2) the Stanford
AI lab, 3) the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities, 3) Carnegie-
Mellon University, 4) Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Some entries
dated back to the early 1970s. This version was published as _The_
Hacker's_Dictionary_ in 1983.

   This new version casts a wider net than the old jargon file;
its aim is to cover not just AI but all the technical computing
cultures wherein the true hacker-nature is manifested. More than
half of the entries now derive from USENET and the C and UNIX
communities.

    The present maintainers of the jargon file are Guy L. Steele
(g...@think.com) and Eric S. Raymond (e...@snark.thyrsus.com). Send
all additions, corrections and correspondence relating to the
jargon file to jar...@think.com.

CREDITS
   The original jargon file was compiled by Guy L. Steele Jr., Raphael
Finkel, Don Woods, and Mark Crispin, with assistance from the MIT and
Stanford AI communities and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Some contributions were submitted via the ARPAnet from miscellaneous
sites. The `old' jargon file was last revised in 1983; its revisions
are all un-numbered and may be collectively considered `Version 1'.

   Version 2.1: the jargon file reorganization and massive additions
were by Eric S. Raymond, approved by Guy Steele. Many items of UNIX,
C, USENET and microcomputer-based slang were added at that time (as
well as Appendix A, The Untimely Demise of Mabel The Monkey). Some
obsolescent usages (mostly PDP-10 derived) were moved to appendix B.
The bibliography (Appendix C) was also consed on.

   Our thanks to all the USENETters who contributed entries and
encouragement. Special thanks to our Scandinavian correspondent Per
Lindberg (p...@front.se), author of the remarkable Swedish language
'zine _Hackerbladet_, for bring FOO! comics to our attention and
smuggling the IBM hacker underground's own baby jargon file out to
us. Also, much gratitude to ace hacker/linguist Joe Keane
(j...@osc.osc.com) for helping us improve the pronunciation guides; and
to Maarten Litmath for generously allowing the inclusion of the
ASCII prononunciation guide he maintains.

FORMAT FOR NEW ENTRIES
   Try to conform to the format already being used -- 70 character
lines, 3-character indentations, pronunciations in parentheses,
etymologies in brackets, single-space after def'n numbers and word
classes, etc. Stick to the standard ASCII character set.

   We are looking to expand the file's range of technical specialties
covered. There are doubtless rich veins of jargon yet untapped in the
scientific computing, graphics, and networking hacker communities;
also in numerical analysis, computer architectures and VLSI design,
language design, and many other related fields. Send us your slang!

   We are *not* interested in straight technical terms explained by
textbooks or technical dictionaries unless an entry illuminates
``underground'' meanings or aspects not covered by official histories.
We are also not interested in ``joke'' entries -- there is a lot of
humor in the file but it must flow naturally out of the explanations
of what hackers do and how they think.

   It is OK to submit items of slang you have originated if they
have spread to the point of being used by people who are not
personally acquainted with you. We prefer items to be attested by
independent submission from two different sites.

   The slang file will be regularly maintained and re-posted from
now on and will include a version number. Read it, pass it around,
contribute -- this is *your* monument!

NOTES ON JARGON CONSTRUCTION
   There are some standard methods of jargonification which became
established quite early (i.e before 1970), spreading from such sources
as the MIT Model Railroad Club, the PDP-1 SPACEWAR hackers and John
McCarthy's original crew of LISPers. These include:

Verb doubling: a standard construction is to double a verb and use it
   as a comment on what the implied subject does.  Often used to
   terminate a conversation.  Typical examples involve WIN, LOSE,
   HACK, FLAME, BARF, CHOMP:
        ``The disk heads just crashed.''  ``Lose, lose.''
        ``Mostly he just talked about his @#!!$% crock.  Flame, flame.''
        ``Boy, what a bagbiter!  Chomp, chomp!''

Soundalike slang: similar to Cockney rhyming slang.  Often made up on
   the spur of the moment.  Standard examples:
        Boston Globe => Boston Glob
        Herald American => Horrid (Harried) American
        New York Times => New York Slime
        Prime Time => Slime Time
        government property - do not duplicate (seen on keys)
                => government duplicity - do not propagate
   Often the substitution will be made in such a way as to slip in
   a standard jargon word:
        Dr. Dobb's Journal => Dr. Frob's Journal
        Margaret Jacks Hall => Marginal Hacks Hall
        Data General => Dirty Genitals

The -P convention: turning a word into a question by appending the
   syllable ``P''; from the LISP convention of appending the letter ``P''
   to denote a predicate (a Boolean-valued function).  The question
   should expect a yes/no answer, though it needn't.  (See T and NIL.)
     At dinnertime: ``Foodp?''  ``Yeah, I'm pretty hungry.'' or ``T!''
     ``State-of-the-world-P?''  (Straight) ``I'm about to go home.''
                              (Humorous) ``Yes, the world has a state.''
   [One of the best of these is a Gosperism (i.e., due to Bill
   Gosper).  When we were at a Chinese restaurant, he wanted to know
   whether someone would like to share with him a two-person-sized
   bowl of soup.  His inquiry was: ``Split-p soup?'' --GLS]

Peculiar nouns: MIT AI hackers love to take various words and add the
   wrong endings to them to make nouns and verbs, often by extending a
   standard rule to nonuniform cases.  Examples:
                porous => porosity
                generous => generosity
        Ergo:   mysterious => mysteriosity
                ferrous => ferrocity

        Other examples: winnitude, disgustitude, hackification.

   Also, note that all nouns can be verbed.  eg: ``All nouns can be
   verbed'', ``I'll mouse it up'', ``Hang on while I clipboard it over'',
   ``I'm grepping the files''. English as a whole is already heading in
   this direction (towards pure-positional grammar like Chinese);
   hackers are simply a bit ahead of the curve.

Spoken inarticulations: Words such as ``mumble'', ``sigh'', and ``groan''
   are spoken in places where their referent might more naturally be
   used.  It has been suggested that this usage derives from the
   impossibility of representing such noises in a com link.  Another
   expression sometimes heard is ``complain!'', meaning ``I have a
   complaint!''

Hacker speech style: Features extremely precise diction, careful
   word choice, a relatively large working vocabulary, and relatively
   little use of contractions or ``street slang''. Dry humor, irony,
   puns, and a mildly flippant attitude are highly valued -- but an
   underlying seriousness and intelligence is essential. One should
   use just enough jargon to communicate precisely and identify
   oneself as ``in the culture''; overuse and a breathless, excessively
   gung-ho attitude are considered tacky and the mark of a loser.

This speech style (a variety of the precisionist English normally
spoken by scientists, design engineers, and academics in technical
fields) is fairly constant everywhere. Of the five listed
constructions, verb doubling,  peculiar noun formations, and
(especially!) spoken inarticulations  have become quite general; but
rhyming slang is still largely confined to MIT and other large
universities, and the P convention is found only where LISPers
flourish.

   One final note. Many words in hacker jargon have to be understood as
members of sets of comparatives. This is especially true of the adjectives
and nouns used to describe the beauty and functional quality of code. Here
is an approximately correct spectrum:

        MONSTROSITY BRAIN-DAMAGE  BUG  SCREW  LOSE  MISFEATURE
        CROCK  KLUGE  HACK  WIN  FEATURE  ELEGANCE PERFECTION

The last is never actually attained.

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

   Pronunciation keys are provided in the jargon listing for all
entries which are neither dictionary words pronounced as in standard
English nor obvious compounds of same. These guides use the following
simple system:

   1) Syllables are hyphen-separated, except that an apostrophe
      or back-apostrophe follows each accented syllable (the
      back apostrophe marks a secondary accent in some words of
      four or more syllables).

   2) Consonants are pronounced as in American English. The letter
      ``g'' is always hard (as in ``got'' rather than ``giant'');
      ``ch'' is soft ("church'' rather than ``chemist"). The letter
      ``j'' is the sound that occurs twice in ``judge''. The letter
      ``s'' is always as in ``pass'', never a z sound (but it is
      sometimes doubled at the end of syllables to emphasize this).
      The digraph `dh' is the th of `these clothes', not of `thick'.

    3) Vowels are represented as follows:

        a       back, that
        ah      father, palm
        ar      far, mark
        aw      flaw, caught
        ay      bake, rain
        e       less, men
        ee      easy, ski
        eir     their, software
        i       trip, hit
        ie      life, sky
        o       cot, top
        oh      flow, sew
        oo      loot, through
        or      more, door
        ow      out, how
        oy      boy, coin
        uh      but, some
        u       put, foot
        y       yet
        yoo     few
        [y]oo   oo with optional fronting as in `news' (noos or nyoos)

An at-sign is used for the ``schwa'' sound of unstressed or occluded
vowels (the one that is often written with an upside-down ``e"). The
schwa vowel is omitted in syllables containing vocalic r, l, m or n;
that is, ``kitten'' and ``color'' would be rendered ``kit'n'' and
``kul'r''.

UNIX CONVENTIONS
   References such as `malloc(3)' and `patch(1)' are to UNIX
facilities (some of ...

read more »

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Robert Mayo » Sat, 01 Dec 1990 03:32:48



Quote:>UNIX CONVENTIONS
>   References such as `malloc(3)' and `patch(1)' are to UNIX
>facilities (some of which, such as patch(1), are actually freeware
>distributed over USENET). The UNIX manuals use `foo(n)' to refer to
>item foo in section n) of the manual, where n=1 is utilities, n=2 is
>system calls, n=3 is C library routines, n=4 is file formats, n=5 is
>a miscellany, n=6 is games, n=7 is device drivers, and n=8 is system
>administration tools.

I'm offended.  This is just plain wrong.  The correct order is 1 User Commands, 2 System Calls, 3 Subroutines, 4 Devices, 5 File Formats, 6 Games & Demos, 7 Miscellaneous, and 8 Maintenance Commands.
--

 /_ Fun things to do with UNIX (#118 in a series):
  / tail -f super.grow | cat /etc/motd - >> super.grow

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Eric S. Raymo » Sat, 01 Dec 1990 20:03:47



Quote:>                          [flaming me]
> I'm offended.  This is just plain wrong.  The correct order is 1 User
> Commands, 2 System Calls, 3 Subroutines, 4 Devices, 5 File Formats, 6 Games
> & Demos, 7 Miscellaneous, and 8 Maintenance Commands.

I dunno what weird UNIX you're using, but if you'll look at a stock AT&T SVr3.2
manual set you'll find the sections to be as I described them. Did it occur
to you that we might *both* be right before you hit the send key?

<sigh> Two-valued logic is such a bummer sometimes.

I'll add a note that sections 4 and 5 and 7 have been known to get swapped
around.
--

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Dick Du » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 12:08:43




...
> > I'm offended.  This is just plain wrong.  The correct order is 1 User
> > Commands, 2 System Calls, 3 Subroutines, 4 Devices, 5 File Formats, 6 Games
> > & Demos, 7 Miscellaneous, and 8 Maintenance Commands.
> I dunno what weird UNIX you're using, but if you'll look at a stock AT&T SVr3.2...

V.3.2 is weird enough, Eric.  Look, Mayoff is just stating it as *everyone*
knows it's *supposed* to be, not how AT&T decided to tweak it to try to
confuse us.  I don't think he was flaming you so much as suggesting you get
some perspective.  The division that Mayoff lists is used in at least V7
through 10, plus BSD.  (4 is more properly "special files" than devices)

And no, I'm not flaming you either, though I might be poking fun at
someone who doesn't know the One True Layout of proper UNIX manual pages...

Quote:> I'll add a note that sections 4 and 5 and 7 have been known to get swapped
> around.

Makes sense.  Just be sure to note that it's AT&T that swapped them
around.
--

   ...Mr. Natural says, "Use the right tool for the job."
 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Paul Na » Tue, 04 Dec 1990 16:47:30



Quote:> BUG [from telephone terminology, ``bugs in a telephone cable'', blamed
>    for noisy lines] n. An unwanted and unintended property of a
>    program, esp. one which causes it to malfunction. See FEATURE.

I have heard this attributed to Rear Admiral (retd) Grace Hopper, who
had a malfunctioning program.  The cause was traced to a fried moth in
the back of the computer.

 ---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---=---
Paul Nash                           Flagship Wide Area Networks (Pty) Ltd

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Lar Kaufm » Wed, 05 Dec 1990 00:07:01




>> I dunno what weird UNIX you're using, but if you'll look at a stock AT&T SVr3.2...

 .
 .
 .
Quote:>V.3.2 is weird enough, Eric.  Look, Mayoff is just stating it as *everyone*
>knows it's *supposed* to be, not how AT&T decided to tweak it to try to
>confuse us...

And you probably haven't even seen what they did to the man pages for SVR4,
yet.  AT&T seems to be pretty disrespectful of certain traditions, and the
shifting around of the reference page system doesn't do much to improve
useability.  

Of course, the "original" man page numbering system never made much sense,
either, but you'd expect any change to be in the direction of logical
restructuring, or at least so that the default behavior of man command
would probably display what you wanted to see.

-lar

--
Lar Kaufman lark       I would feel more optimistic about a bright future
(voice) 512-329-2455   for man if he spent less time proving that he can
(fax)   512-329-2755   outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by mitchel » Thu, 06 Dec 1990 11:47:05




>> BUG [from telephone terminology, ``bugs in a telephone cable'', blamed
>>    for noisy lines] n. An unwanted and unintended property of a
>>    program, esp. one which causes it to malfunction. See FEATURE.

>I have heard this attributed to Rear Admiral (retd) Grace Hopper, who
>had a malfunctioning program.  The cause was traced to a fried moth in
>the back of the computer.

Somewhere in the back of a dusty file drawer I have a xerox of a
mazine article which printed a photo of Grace Hopper's logbook entry about
the bug - with the bug itself (beaten to death by relay contacts)
taped to the page.

--

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Dave Si » Thu, 06 Dec 1990 21:59:17



Quote:

>Somewhere in the back of a dusty file drawer I have a xerox of a
>mazine article which printed a photo of Grace Hopper's logbook entry about
>the bug - with the bug itself (beaten to death by relay contacts)
>taped to the page.

Up until a year or so ago, this log book was in a small display case,
along with some pieces of core memory and other artifacts, at the
Naval Surface Warfare Center (relay.nswc.navy.mil) in Dahlgren,
*ia.  I don't remember seeing Adm. Hopper's name anywhere on the
page, though.

I *did* hear that she was responsible for the log book being there.
Apparently, someone asked her where it should be kept, and she
recommended "the computer museum at Dahlgren".  Yeah, that 2'x3'
display case with two shelves...

Also, it was clear from the wording of the log message that the term
"bug" was already in common usage at the time.  It said something like
"First real computer `bug'."  (Sue me if that's not exact.)

Finally, I have no idea where they moved it to.

--

Martin Marietta Energy Systems
Workstation Support

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Warner Lo » Thu, 06 Dec 1990 09:36:12



>I have heard this attributed to Rear Admiral (retd) Grace Hopper, who
>had a malfunctioning program.  The cause was traced to a fried moth in
>the back of the computer.

While this is true, the use of bug goes back much farther.  There was
a long thread on this topic somewhere a while back.  People posted
enimilogies from the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) that show that
the usage dates back much farther than the 1940's.  If someone has the
discussion archived, then would they be so kind as to post it.

Warner

--

We sing about Beauty and we sing about Truth at $10,000 a show.

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Uncle Way » Fri, 07 Dec 1990 06:20:53



>Somewhere in the back of a dusty file drawer I have a xerox of a
>mazine article which printed a photo of Grace Hopper's logbook entry about
>the bug - with the bug itself (beaten to death by relay contacts)
>taped to the page.

>--

Unfortunately, Grace Hopper's logbook entry about the bug is yet
another piece of folklore.  My father-in-law works at Dahlgren Naval
Surface Warfare Center, the place where the bug entered history.  He
has seen the logbook referring to the bug and our friend Grace wasn't
on duty or in the building when the bug was found.  I imagine she came
in later and found the bug in the logbook, but she wasn't there when
the bug was found.  I've heard from the net that She went on to promote
the bug and herself.  Yet another piece of folklore debunked -- that
is, if you trust my father-in-law and me.

                                Wayne Morrison

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Tom Rombou » Sat, 08 Dec 1990 06:06:26




>> BUG [from telephone terminology, ``bugs in a telephone cable'', blamed
>>    for noisy lines] n. An unwanted and unintended property of a
>>    program, esp. one which causes it to malfunction. See FEATURE.

>I have heard this attributed to Rear Admiral (retd) Grace Hopper, who
>had a malfunctioning program.  The cause was traced to a fried moth in
>the back of the computer.

As many people may know, this is covered in "The Devouring Fungus" on
page 64 and 65 of "The *netic Gods" chapter.  I don't want to spoil
it for people who have not yet read the book, but essentially "bug" to
mean a problem or snag has an older linguistic heritage than one might
expect!


 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Joe Morr » Sat, 08 Dec 1990 00:20:39



Quote:>Unfortunately, Grace Hopper's logbook entry about the bug is yet
>another piece of folklore.  My father-in-law works at Dahlgren Naval
>Surface Warfare Center, the place where the bug entered history.  He
>has seen the logbook referring to the bug and our friend Grace wasn't
>on duty or in the building when the bug was found.  I imagine she came
>in later and found the bug in the logbook, but she wasn't there when
>the bug was found.  I've heard from the net that She went on to promote
>the bug and herself.  

FWIW, I've never heard Grace actually claim to be the person who actually
found the bug, and I'm not sure she ever even claimed to be on duty
at the time it was found.  Certainly she has appropriated the story as
one of her staple items for any talk she gives, but I don't think she
crossed the line between "this is something that happened where I was
once employed" and "this is something which happened to me".
 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Greg Hu » Fri, 07 Dec 1990 23:18:03



> Unfortunately, Grace Hopper's logbook entry about the bug is yet
> another piece of folklore.  My father-in-law works at Dahlgren Naval
> Surface Warfare Center, the place where the bug entered history.  He
> has seen the logbook referring to the bug and our friend Grace wasn't
> on duty or in the building when the bug was found.  I imagine she came
> in later and found the bug in the logbook, but she wasn't there when
> the bug was found.  I've heard from the net that She went on to promote
> the bug and herself.  Yet another piece of folklore debunked -- that
> is, if you trust my father-in-law and me.

Well, I for one don't believe your father-in-law.  I heard Grace
Hopper speak once while I was working in Massachusetts, and she told
the story exactly as related here by other folks.  I have no reason
to doubt her.  She's an extraordinary lady.

--

DG/UX Kernel Development         UUCP:     {world}!mcnc!rti!dg-rtp!hunt
Data General Corporation
Research Triangle Park, NC, USA  These opinions are mine, not DG's.

 
 
 

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 1 of 6

Post by Jan Matts » Tue, 11 Dec 1990 20:22:32




>> BUG [from telephone terminology, ``bugs in a telephone cable'', blamed
>>    for noisy lines] n. An unwanted and unintended property of a
>>    program, esp. one which causes it to malfunction. See FEATURE.
>I have heard this attributed to Rear Admiral (retd) Grace Hopper, who
>had a malfunctioning program.  The cause was traced to a fried moth in
>the back of the computer.

The use of the word "bug" to describe "unwanted and unintended" behavior
is much older than computers. Edison used it, and perhaps it's even older
than that.

--
Jan Mattsson                                    
Computer Science student, Uppsala University, Sweden