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The Tenne-C programming language

... from Good Ol' Boy Systems.

by Andrew B. Peed, AT&T Bell Laboratories

For all those unfamiliar with Tenne-C, the comment delimiter is WHISPER. The computer stores all WHISPERed comments in memory, but the instruction execution unit can never quite decode them, so they are ignored. Some beta site users have reported an occasional problem with IBM clone machines. These machines may get slightly confused or mildly paranoid due to the whispered remarks in the background, but the effects are usually limited to an occasional utterance printed on the display. Note that the optional extended obscenity instruction set should not be installed in clone machines. Should such a machine crash, you could be arrested for making an obscene clone fall.

General Idiosyncrasies of Tenne-C

Data is referred to as Ciphers; the start of a data section should be so labeled. Data which is external to a given file is denoted by the term YONDER, similar to the EXTERNAL directive.

Single arguments are not passed to functions individually; rather, multiple passes are made simultaneously to all functions. Thus, in Tenne-C, we speak of feuds rather than arguments. This is an extremely powerful, albeit somewhat destructive feature of Tenne-C.

Relational operators work similarly to those in other languages, but in Tenne-C these are called kinfolk operators. It will be noted that some of these interrelate better than others. Kinfolk operators include:

bettern(mines) bettern (yourn)
boutlack(mines) boutlack (yourn)
nearlyboutlack(mines) nearlyboutlack (yourn)
worsern(yourns) worsern (mine)
nearlyboutsgoods(yourns) nearlyboutsgoods (mine)
lack(mines) lack (yourn)
sortalack(mines) sortalack (yourn)
differrtn(yourns) differrtn (mine)

The Boolean operators are somewhat different than most. Note the lack of AND and OR operators:

  1. taint
  2. istoo
  3. tis
  4. aintdunnit
  5. nary
  6. nope

Variable assignments must be explicitly declared with the AHDODECLARE directive, although one declaration can serve a block of variables. Variable assignments can be quite interesting and flexible, as can be seen in the following examples:

  AHDODECLARE:    a's     nearlybout      3
                  b's     zacktly         4
                  c's     bout            2
                  d's     morerless       TWEV
                  e's     2, an imeanit   WHISPER this is a constant

Certain constants are implicit, such as SCOSHE, LIBBIT, FAV, SEM, NAN, LEM, TWEV, THUTTY, etc. Such obvious values need not be declared, as they reside in the library books.

Arrays must be declared with the AHDODECLARE statement, and are referred to as messa, as in:

  AHDODECLARE(dinner)     messa(fish)     TWEV

Note that until you get the hang of array declarations, you may encounter a SYNTEXT ERROR; this is a syntax error which has been taken out of context.

The program section is referred to as CHORES and is labeled as such. Several loop and conditional constructs are available. These include the following:

  • Hauloff and do
  • Fer, til loop
  • Whol, longasyerattit
  • Iffen, theyen
  • Yehbut, nowait

Code is grouped into hopefully functional units with the standard, [] and () operators, although they are given slightly different names. They are still called braces, but the [] are called kibbuls and the () are called bits. Thus you can have braces and bits or kibbuls and bits. Braces and kibbuls are, of course, meaningless.

If a KIBBITZ ERROR is encountered at compile time, that is a single kib [ with a pair of bits (). The omission of a single ] can also result in a NO BULL! error. Very serious compiler errors will be proceeded by the SELF message. That's right, brace yourself. We're talking about such errors as SOURCE FILE TURNED TO TRASH, SOURCE FILE CONVERTED TO RUN FILE, HEX PUT ON SOURCE FILE, that sort of thing. Errors of this type will be followed by the message "START ALL OVER FROM SCRATCH", and the offending source file will, of course, be deleted.

Error messages can be quite strong indeed. We have one of the most arrogant compilers in the business, a source of great pride for us. Typical error messages include:

  • WELL, IF THAT AIN'T ABOUT THE DUMBEST DANG THANG I EVER SEEN!
  • WHADJA DO THAT FER?
  • ERROR TWENNY SEM, DUMB AICE!
  • DAMMIT, BOY, HOW MANY TIMES I GOT TO TELL YOU?!

The compiler is referred to as the THRASHER and is invoked with the simple THRASH directive. Be sure not to omit the "H" from this command! If you are unsure whether you want to compile the entire program, you may use the more general THRASH AROUND command.

Good Ol' Boy Systems still clings tenaciously to the notion that single-sided diskettes are better than double-sided diskettes. We maintain that a single-sided diskette is in opposition to the laws of physics as we know them today. However, we further maintain that, at some time in the future, Good Ol' Boy Systems will be the first to discover the unlimited storage of the heretofore undiscovered "nether side" of single-sided diskettes. Now that, folks, is virtual disk space.

A software linker is not yet available. Until the virtual disk space is truly solved, we strongly recommend double sided disk drives. You can then purchase our hardware linker, which allows you to superglue two single-sided diskettes together.

We're working on other things, too. For instance, there's our new operating system, MS-HOSS, with the 'Mater Vine file structure. And for 'Mater Vine support, there's 'Mater Stakes. And if you thought SideKick was good, wait til you see our new ButtKick utility. Expected to be widely available by the end of next month, regardless of what month this be, it is being developed using our powerful new Four Barrel Tenne-C. While we aren't yet ready to develop a Turbo Tenne-C, we feel that the high data compression ratio of Four Barrel Tenne-C will suffice.

Here is a sample of our work. This is part of our new floating point package, written in LOWLIFE, our low-level programming language.

     UNSTACKUMDOTNUMBER   WHISPER rip number off the stack
     JIP DOTREMOVER       WHISPER jump if punctuated
     DONTDONOTHING        WHISPER no op
     JUMP EM2DGITBACK     WHISPER return
     GUMDROPS4EARPLUGS    WHISPER sweet things in my ear

  DOTREMOVER:
     RDLDOTNUMBER         WHISPER Rikki, don't lose that number
     ASRDOTNUMBER         WHISPER shift the number right
     JISP DOTREMOVER      WHISPER jump if still punctuated
     ABSOLUTELYNOT        WHISPER negate number and take absolute value
     BZZBZZBZZ            WHISPER
                          WHISPER
                          WHISPER
  EM2DGITBACK:
     RTS                  WHISPER return to stack
     RETURNS              WHISPER return estimated truncated unary radix
                          WHISPER numerix stuff

 


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Thomas Bätzler, Thomas@Baetzler.de
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