Programming Languages

Updated: January 25, 2022
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Without language, we would be very limited in our communication. The more languages we know, the more opportunities we have to communicate with people. Meet a very smart kid who is fluent in three languages, Chinese, English and Spanish. Knowing three different languages helps him understand and communicate with his family members, his teachers and his friends. His family only understands Chinese, his Spanish teacher speaks to the class in Spanish, and his American friends only speak English.

Spoken and written languages aren't the only kind of language though, there is body language for humans, and computer language for computers, robots and machines. But in every case, language is a medium for communication. If he didn't know Chinese, he wouldn't understand his father's instructions to empty the trash. His Spanish teacher would not be able to teach him if he didn't understand Spanish, and he would have no idea his buddies playing dodgeball for yelling duck if he didn't understand English. Like people, computers have the ability to understand different languages.

Each computer language has its own logic and its own symbols. The languages that computers use to communicate are called programming languages. Programming languages are separated by their purpose and their level. In fact, symbols are the main components of any language. It's the combination arrangement, logic and meaning behind any set of symbols that make a language. C, C++, C sharp, Python, and JavaScript are examples of programming languages. Just as Chinese, Spanish and English are examples of human languages, they each have their own symbols, logic and rules.

Higher level programs are written and structured in a way that's closer to human verbal language. Java and Python are high level programming languages and generally run across different types of computers. There are also lower level languages called assembly languages that computers use to communicate instructions at the processor level, the lower level these are specific to an individual machine at the processor level. They are also called machine languages. Each computer language is different and created for a specific purpose. And the logic and rules that works for one language will not work for another even if the symbols are similar.

So to recap, like human languages, programming languages are collections of symbols, logic codes, and syntax that tells the computer what we want it to do. Each programming language can be grouped by both its level and its purpose. The language most different from the way people communicate is assembly language. This makes it the most difficult to use and learn. But even though learning new ways to communicate can be tricky. It is incredibly valuable and will give you a lot more career options in the future.