Jean-Philippe Paradis tweeted the perfect answer to those who complain about “problems” with Lisp syntax. The tweet was apparently provoked by this post from John Cook that, while discussing symbols in programming languages, remarked that “Lisp’s typographical monotony makes it hard to skim for landmarks.” Paradis’ tweet makes the point that supposed problems with s-expressions are speculative in that they tend to disappear once one becomes familiar with the syntax.
I’m with Paradis on this. Certainly Lisp has fewer symbols than APL and arguably fewer than Perl but I don’t find it anymore typographically monotonous than, say, C, C++, Python or most of the other mainstream languages. I certainly don’t have any more problem scanning it than I do the others. I think Paradis is exactly right: once you use it for a little while, the syntax or lack of it just disappears into the background.
What do the rest of you find? Do you think Lisp is typographically monotonous? If so, does that make it hard to scan for you? I don’t think so but Cook, who is not a stranger to Lisp, seems to believe it is. Share your experience in the comments.