Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

Alright, so, I might be a bit of a Linguistics nerd, but this caught my eye on Slashdot today:

“You can now get GPLed JVM sources from Sun. Everyone seemed to be expecting the desktop version (J2SE) but J2ME has been released first. It looks to be buildable for Linux x86, MIPS, and ARM platforms. Sun now calls it ‘phoneME.’ Enjoy.”

For those without the technical background, Sun Microsystems, who created the original code to the popular Java programming language (used by many applications and websites), has decided to release the source code to that language, making it usable for anybody. This is very cool, and will be a huge step for open source software. w00t for Sun!

What caught my eye, though, is the name: “PhoneME”, which is a recapitalization of “Phoneme”, a linguistics term, indicating a group of sounds, which, although different in terms of sound and articulation, sound the same to a native speaker of a certain language (think the L’s in “People” and “Light”).

I’m not certain why they chose this particular name, but hey, whatever. Perhaps it’s a commentary on the fact that, although Java has many distinctly different libraries and implementation, all users view it as one thing. That, or maybe they just don’t have a clue what they did. Yeah, I’m gonna go with the second option there.


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