The Arnold Schwarzenegger Programming Language Is a Beautiful Thing

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 18 2014 2:50 PM

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Programming Language Is a Beautiful Thing

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GET TO THE CHOPPER.

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

IT’S SHOWTIME.

So begins every program written in a new Arnold Schwarzenegger-based programming language available for download on GitHub. The language, called ArnoldC, was developed by Finnish programmer Lauri Hartikka and assigns basic programming functions to the governator’s most recognizable catchphrases, including TALK TO THE HAND, GET TO THE CHOPPER, and—of course—YOU HAVE BEEN TERMINATED. (Yes, the terms have to be typed in all caps.)

While it certainly ranks high in absurdity, ArnoldC is by no means the only wacky programming language out there.  Programmers come up with new languages all the time, often just to have a bit of fun. If you’re looking for something a little more literary, there’s Shakespeare, which reads like any of the Bard’s plays, with an extra dose of creative insults. If you’re looking for a challenge, There’s Brainfuck, which uses only eight symbols (> < + - . , [ ]). If you’re looking to completely lose your mind, there’s Chicken, which—you guessed it—uses exclusively the word chicken.

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Writing code is simply a way to give instructions to a computer in a language that is intelligible to humans. These languages are much simpler than English but are still vastly more complex than the computer can understand. Whether code is written in C++ or Chicken, once the coder runs the program, it is converted to a machine language of 0s and 1s that the computer can comprehend and execute. Essentially, it doesn’t matter what language a programmer chooses, as long as it’s clear to her. You could even write directly in binary if you had a lot of time on your hands.

However, since we usually have to translate code from human language to machine language, perhaps structuring a programming language around one-liners from a man who played a human-machine hybrid makes more sense than you think. It’s actually kind of beautiful.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Hana Glasser is a Slate intern.