6lang: The Naming Discussion Update

Read this article on 6lang.Party

When a couple months ago I rekindled the naming debate—the discussion on whether "Perl 6" should be renamed—I didn't expect anything more than a collective groan. That wasn't the case and today, I figured, I'd post a progress report and list the salient happenings, all the way to my currently being the proud owner of 6lang.party domain name.

The "Rakudo" Language

The "new" name I mentioned in my original post was Rakudo. As many quickly pointed out, it wasn't the greatest of names because it was the name of an implementation. Yes, I agree, but originally I thought few, if any, would be on board with a new name, or extended name, and Rakudo was basically the only name people already were using, so it stood out as something that could be "hijacked."

The Blog Post Fallout

There was quite a bit of discussion on r/perl, r/perl6, and blogs.perl.org. The general mood among the Perl community members who aren't avid 6lang users was that the entirely new name was a good idea. However, the 6lang users, and especially core devs, overall, argued "Perl 6" still had some recognition benefits and should not be removed entirely.

The middle ground was aimed at then: extend the language name. The "official" name would be among the lines of "Blah Perl 6" and users opposed to the 4-letter swear word would just use the name extension on its own, while those who feel the original name has benefits can still reap them.

The decision on the naming extension was placed on the 6.d language release agenda, with the final call on whether and with what the name should to be extended to be done by Larry, when we cut the 6.d language release.

The 6lang

Fast-forward two months. A kind soul (thank you, by the way!) asked Larry what he thought about the naming debate during the last Perl Conference:

Larry opined that we could have other terms by which Perl versions or Perl distributions are marketed as. So that gives us an option to pick an alternative name to be the second name with any "official" standing. Personally, I really like this idea; even more than name extension, because should there indeed be more benefit to the name without "Perl" in it, the alternative name will naturally become the most-used one.

Another core dev, AlexDaniel++, coined an alternative name: spelt 6lang; can be pronounced as slang, if you want to be fancy. I really liked the name, so I jumped in and registered 6lang.party

<AlexDaniel> Zoffix++ for making me recognize the need for
     alternative name. For a long time I was against
<AlexDaniel> and honestly, I can start using something like 6lang
     right away. “Rakudo Perl 6” is infringing on
     language/compiler distinction so I'm feeling reluctant
<Zoffix> OK, I'll too start using 6lang
* Zoffix is now a proud owner of 6lang.party :D
<timotimo> wow
<AlexDaniel> that was quick

And a couple of hours later, our Marketing Department churned out a new poster:

The drawback is that the name can't be used as an identifier… and Larry doesn't think it's a terribly sexy name.

* TimToady notes that 6lang isn't gonna work anywhere an identifier
     needs a leading alpha
<TimToady> it's also not a terribly sexy name
<TimToady> I could go for something more like psix, "where the p is silent
     if you want it to be" :)

Although, on the plus side, the name has the benefit that alphabetically it sorts earlier than pretty much any other language.

<AlexDaniel> If we see “6lang” as a more marketable alternative, then
     the fact that some things may not parse it as an identifier
     practically does not matter. However, this little bit is quite useful:
<AlexDaniel> m: <perl5 golang c# 6lang ruby>.sort.say
<camelia> rakudo-moar 39a4b7: OUTPUT: «(6lang c# golang perl5 ruby)␤»
<AlexDaniel> :)
<AlexDaniel> .oO( AAAlang – batteries included )

To 6.d Release And Beyond

So that's where things progressed to so far. No official decisions have been made yet, but we're thinking about it and playing with the idea. The decision on the naming debate is to be made during 6.d release.

Having learned a painful lesson from The Christmas release, we're reluctant to put down any dates for 6.d release, but I suspect it'll be somewhere between the upcoming New Year's and It's-Ready-When-It's-Ready.

See you then \o


What I've noticed: Other than people caught up in the name debate, and people trying to be respectful of those caught up in the debate, lots of writing about the language resorts to the practical abbreviation "P6". This is in the new batch of books, blog posts, etc., usually after they've introduced the language with one or another of the "formal" names such as the current Perl 6 and proposals like Rakudo Perl 6.

P6 is understood by those who know the history, and carries no baggage for those whose only knowledge of Perl is the "line-noise" BS.

When I saw 6lang, I pronounced it to myself as "six-lang", and that sounded interesting. But I'd be concerned about pronouncing it "slang".

"Slang has slangs!"
"Hey check out this new language, Slang."
"Naw, I need a language that does more than slangs, as cool as that is."
"No Slang does lots of other things!
"So, it's a slang language with add-ons?"

I've worked professionally in Perl since 1995. I have deep appreciation for the Perl 5 devs and community, and I'm in awe of what the Perl 6 team has wrought and successfully brought to usefulness this past year. So I don't need "marketing" to recruit me to either language. But to the extent I can be an ambassador for the languages, I am affected by the name question, which is why I'm chiming in here.

You might have heard some version of this aphorism, and I've actually seen it put into practice: The landscape designer for a new development submits plans with no footpaths. When called on it, they say: we wait until we can see where actual people walk regularly, and that's where we'll put the paths.


6lang may not be a valid identifier, but one can do things like this:

my %lang = :6lang, :5perl;


Slang is a term for describing informal language used in some environment because it is NOT easily understandable by common people.

And because of prison slang this term still means 'the vocabulary of "low or disreputable" people' (Wikipedia quote).

That's terrible marketing name.

I personally like "Perl 6". In my company a lot of developers know what Perl is and they associate Perl in general with both line noise and awesome parsing capabilities. And some of them (mostly PHP/JS developers) are familiar with new Perl 6 features like great unicode support or Rat calculations. So it's a strong brand that is getting positive feedback right now. Rebranding to Rakudo or 6lang means basically to throw away all the marketing done in the past years - blog posts, advent calendars, conferences - and start from scratch with building new brand recognition. Additionally causing a lot of confusion because if someone uses a "Rakudo language" and tries to find how to resolve some issue on the internet he will miss all of those existing Perl 6 articles.

I work as a government contractor (where Perl is used more than is prudent to discuss). Government people have heard of Perl, even if they don't know what it is and may last have looked at the language back when 5.10 was Big News. Still, telling them I want something from CPAN is not dragging in a foreign entity.

Moreover, telling them Perl 6 is really cool and a big improvement over the "old version" at least has a ring of familiarity. Rakudo ... psix, 6lang (ugh), those are all strangers and bound to be regarded with suspicion.

Just another larry.

I think 6lang is an absolutely wonderful idea. It freshly brands this completely new language and specification and, as others have mentioned, this naming scheme is used elsewhere, such as with Golang.

I don't like the brand name Perl 6. It is such a different and more powerful language than Perl 5, not the next version of Perl 5 and not with any of the baggage that Perl 5 comes with. Naming it Perl 6 was a huge mistake that can be fixed and should be fixed now, it's not too late.

Branding the language and spec 6lang will completely differentiate it from Perl 5 which it should be. Perl and Perl 5 can then continue on it's own track not in the shadow of 6lang, and 6lang can have a fresh start without any of the baggage of Perl 5. Cut the umbilical cord!

zoffix++ you have my vote and support

BTW when I read "6lang" I clearly read it every time as "six-lang" not "slang". I doubt any native English speakers will read it as the latter.

6slang ("slang") works on many levels. One is that it would feel hip for the young folks who want to project grit and edge, likely contributing to broader adoption.

Perl 6 started the design process in 2000, which is before many of these people were even born. So instead of trying to win the race claiming to be the hare, be proud of being the tortoise ;-)

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About Zoffix Znet

user-pic I blog about Perl.