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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2010-02-11 02:33:20

thatsmyusername
Member
Registered: 2010-02-11
Posts: 1

"syntactic sugar" -> "synthetic sugar"

This is a term that originates in discussions on programming languages. Unlike most eggcorns here, most people probably have never even heard of this jargon, much less use it.

So first let me introduce the correct form:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntactic_sugar

Now, I will provide two written occurrences of the eggcorn form “synthetic sugar”.

From an interview with Anders Hejlsberg:
http://maurosjungle.spaces.live.com/blo … !270.entry
Q: “Some people in the C academic community don’t like the idea of operator overloading. Some people call it ‘synthetic poison’, not only ‘synthetic sugar’”

From an M.S. thesis supervised by Bertrand Meyer:
ftp://ftp.inf.ethz.ch/pub/publications/ … xx/661.pdf
“Enumerations are nothing else than synthetic sugar for classes extending java.lang.Enum”

If you look up the above two names, they are VERY prominent figures in the field of programming languages. There are other occurrences out there, but the above two are the most authoritative.

I will point out another interesting occurrence, because here the author actually got it right 3 out of 4 times:
http://tiago.org/cc/2009/12/03/lisp-and … omment-943

Like all eggcorns, the logic behind this error is self-evident. Dietary synthetic sugars are manufactured as nonnutritive additives to sweeten food while adding little else (most hopefully not calories!). Syntactic sugars are analogous in that they’re added to the language by designers to make it “more palatable” to programmers, while adding absolutely nothing to its overall expressive power.

A parallel may also be drawn between the artificial nature of synthetic sugars and the superficial nature of syntactic sugars, and all the negative connotations that follow from such labels. This angle, though more speculative in nature, is perhaps demonstrated by the programming epigram “syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon” (#3 on this list: http://www.cs.yale.edu/quotes.html).

I would very much like to submit this eggcorn to the database. In fact, I’m determined to find more computer science eggcorns. I’m sure people in other fields have encountered eggcorn jargons too.

Last edited by thatsmyusername (2010-02-11 07:38:35)

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#2 2010-02-11 11:57:54

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1623

Re: "syntactic sugar" -> "synthetic sugar"

Very nice, thatsyourusername, thanks for this contribution. Arcane jargon is welcome here.

What makes this more than a straight malaprop is the implication that comes with “synthetic sugar”, that it is somehow better for you, or requires fewer brain calories to digest. It arrives in the same place as “syntactical sugar” but the scenery along the route is different. I vote eggcorn.

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