Scripting Language

On a mailing list I’m on, a few very smart, very experienced programmers were discussing the term “scripting language”. I had nothing of non-semantic value to add to the conversation, but I’ve heard this debate enough times that I figured I’d put my stock response here.

To the question “is X a scripting language?” the answer is “yes”. If the person is unhappy with this answer, the answer is “no”. At this point I ask “What will the correct answer to this question get you?”, and things unravel from there.

All rules someone can come up with to determine if something is a “scripting language” will be violated by at least one language they consider to be one. I assume there’s some fancy logician term for this, I’ll call it a paradoxical assignment until someone corrects me.

The term is vague, and the assignment of the term is typically in place of a more meaningful assessment such as “it’s not compiled”, or “it’s short”, so when someone asks this question, just dig a little deeper, and if someone says “just use a scripting language”, use Perl.