Tcl vs. TCL

George Peter Staplin: It's interesting to me how the vernacular of some groups is to spell the language as Tcl, while others use TCL. I'm not sure when Tcl became the name. Going back to the archives of Tcl I find that the oldest distributation available on SourceForge is tcl2.1.sysv. In the README file Ousterhout uses the term "Tcl." ([1]) Even though it stands for "Tool Command Language" in some way. (DKF: The core documentation consistently uses 'Tcl' everywhere outside actual code. Or at least it does now that we've gone through and fixed it...)

Perl at one time stood for "Practical Extraction and Report Language," but most people spell it Perl. It's usually pronounced like the word Pearl. RLH This is untrue. It is a backronym [L1 ].

How should one pronounce Tcl? Most programmers say "tickle." You *may* find that people (well, senior managers; whether you accept they are people is a separate discussion) won't take you seriously if you say that, so T-C-L or "Tool Command Language" may work better in such cases. (Grrr! See below! Acacio Cruz)

[AMG, cutting in: My programming languages professor almost always pronounces it "T-C-L" or "Teekle" (almost like "treacle", heh), which is strange because he is otherwise devoid of accent. Also he on occasion has called APL "apple". I don't think he takes Tcl seriously, on the grounds that it's free and it's not Visual Basic. (Basic... now how's that for a name you can't take seriously?)] RFox..Basic.. Beginners All purpose Instructional Code.

A similar argument is how to pronounce Linux. Some say "Lie nux," while others use "lee nux" or "lin ux." FW: Incidentally, this also has an official pronunciation [L2 ], which due to the Finnish accent actually is between leenux and lihnux, so you can take your pick ;) CLN I once found -- I don't know if I should say "saw" or "heard" ;-) -- a little sound bite on the web that has Linus Torvalds saying, "My name is Linus Torvalds and I pronounce Linux as 'Linux.'"

  1. "This directory contains the sources for Tcl, an embeddable tool command language. For an introduction to the facilities provided by Tcl, see the paper ``Tcl: An Embeddable Command Language'', in the Proceedings of the 1990 Winter USENIX Conference."

LES I can't take seriously the argument that "people won't take you seriously if you say tickle". That's the language's name, I even have been told that the logo is a feather because "it tickles", so what do we have feel ashamed about? I think that Tcl is very overlooked and/or underrated, but I don't think the name has anything to do with it.

PWQ Les: I never use tickle and always use T-C-L. While the computer nerds may get off on the cutism's that they introduce, in the real world you have to relate to non computer people. Their association of the word tickle is not one that I want to portray in attempting to convince people that I am a competent programmer that can create a robust system and get them to part with their money.

Do people say IBM or I-B-M? P-H-P?. Would you employ someone who was en expert in fluffy?, what about brainfuck, or orgasm?

NEM Do you also avoid telling people that Java is named after a type of coffee, Python is named after a BBC comedy show, or C++ is a geeky joke on the C language increment operator? I mean, come on. Who cares? I use tickle until someone stares blankly at me, and then I offer T-C-L by way of explanation. I've yet to encounter anyone so devoid of a sense of humour to take issue with the name.

PWQ Nem: The ontology of the word is not important. It is what image is created in the person you are communicating with. Take the acronym GAY, what image would the recipient get if they heard the phrase:

        I program in Gay.

They would be somewhat discombobulated because there are numerous interpretations of that word. You would be constantly having to clarify what G-A-Y was.

If the acronym was for example 'PWR and the usages was Power, you would confidently say to someone:

        I program in Power!

Marketing is all about image, and quite frankly the image of tickle lacks impact.

Re: Java,Python, This is a separate issue as these are words not acronyms. Java was originally called Oak, because the developer who conceived it had a favorite oak tree outside of his office. He realized that Oak was already taken so he named it Java based on a coffee shop his team frequently visited.

peterc: FWIW, I catch myself using "T-C-L" when amongst manager types and "tickle" amongst programmers.


FW: Actually, Perl never stood for anything, but some acronyms were later jokingly prescribed (the practical extraction one was suggested in the same Usenet thread as "Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister," if I recall). Tcl isn't a community-induced cutism, it's the official pronunciation as prescribed by Ousterhout.


RLH: I tend towards Tcl because I have only ever seen it that way. The books I read say Tcl/Tk and even the front page of this wikisite says Tcl. And I have only heard it pronounced tickle.

--- MG has personally always pronounced it as three seperate letters (and spells it Tcl). And I think the comparisons to Java, Python and C++ above don't really apply - IMHO, they're names with silly origins that nonetheless just sound good. Whereas I think Tickle is a name for something really good that just sounds silly and unprofessional. Tell a non-programmer you can code them something they need just the same in either T-C-L or Tickle, and I bet most of them will jump at T-C-L straight away.


TR I always say T-c-l. This is because I never heard anyone say the word 'tickle' to me. Why? Because Tcl is not so widespread and known, that I meet people talking about it. And, because I am non-english speaking. While it may feel natural for english speaking people to pronounce the word as 'tickle', I as a german speaking person, would never ever do so. T-c-l feels much more natural to me. But as PWQ already said, it depends on who you talk to and where.

Well, you write in English very well :)

Acacio Cruz Same here: to me Tcl is T-C-L, none the least because I'm not a native English speaker and learned Tcl before knowing it was also pronounced tickle, which I also find lacks presence & "oumph", not to mention is mildly childish and a inner joke that may tickle the initiated but puts off beginners to the language.

Zarutian Also same here: (me2ism out of hand here, eh?) I pronounce Tcl as té-sé-ell. (é being an je/ye sound).


PWR: Praised be this page, for it taught me the meaning of discombobulated!


Lars H, 2008-07-31: I just noticed that titanium tetrachloride (TiClâ‚„) [L3 ] is also called "tickle". It's hard to tell if that is a pro or a con, though.

KPV To further the discussion of is this a pro or con, here's a quote from the link above:

 In the past titanium tetrachloride has also been used to create naval
 smokescreens. When sprayed into the air, TiCl4 rapidly reacts with
 atmospheric moisture:

    TiCl4 + 2H2O -> TiO2 + 4HCl

 ...Due to the corrosiveness of this smoke, however, TiCl4 is no longer used.

AM (17 november 2008) I do hope nobody is forced to use Tcl 4 any more!


NullGravy: I always use T-C-L for greater chance of recognition but I've just been playing with XOTcl which is a great acronym but only if you pronounce it as "exotickle".


Mustard - 2009-10-01 16:47:28

It's possible to pronounce Tcl without any vowel sounds, but it's difficult, at least for native speakers of English (and other languages). Tickle is much easier. I like the no-vowel approach, personally. However, I do agree with the idea of saying it differently depending on the target audience. To non-programmers, I would even go as far to say, "the T-C-L programming language," probably adding, "or, 'tickle'" to establish an abbreviated form.


jblz Yeah, but here's the thing. Perl, Java, Ruby- they all have all kinds of cool stuff that can be associate with the name (the fact that perl is a homonym for a precious object saves it... Ruby should have been named Knit or Yarn or something). Python has a whole comedy troop's worth of material, and Clojure makes it fun to make everything a "jure" instead of "sure". What do we have? Giggles? Spit-milk-out-my-nose 7.2? NO-STOP-i'm-going-to-pee? You think i'm joking, but what is XOTcl? Kiss-Hug-Tickle, that's what. I mean, our logo is a feather: tickle... feather... like something out of a scene in "Dangerous Liaisons". We could have some cool wrench or something.. some tool, but we get a quill. When people see a quill, they think 3 corner hats, and John Hancock, and the year 1776, not cutting edge software development ("script", i get it). We'd be better off if we renamed the language "super luck fun bunny". Oh well, it's a pain to be popular.