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What makes each major language “special”?

It's been said that any language that doesn't change your way of thinking about programming isn't worth learning. It would be interesting to compile a list of what makes every major language "special". These would be the features that are unique to the language (at least compared to languages of similar or greater popularity and/or in terms of the level of emphasis placed on them), that one has to understand to "think in" the language, and that make the language worth learning even if you can't make any money by learning it. Here are some examples:

  • C: Pointers, manual memory management, low-level unchecked programming.
  • C++: RAII, templates.
  • D: Templates on steroids, compile time function evaluation, insanely powerful compile time introspection/reflection, the ability to program at a very high level and a very low level in the same language.

What should a developer know before building a public web site?

The idea here is that most of us should already know most of what is on this list. But there just might be one or two items you haven't really looked into before, don't fully understand, or maybe never even heard of.


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