Is it possible to know too many languages?

Is there a point where learning more just isn't worth it?

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22 Replies - 3841 Views - Last Post: 03 June 2009 - 08:27 PM

#1 crazyjugglerdrummer  Icon User is offline

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Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 24 May 2009 - 08:44 PM

I am currently dabbling/planning to learn many aspects of "programming," including C++, C#, java, objective C, PHP, Html, javascript, etc. I've often heard that employers sometimes don't really look for a specific language on a resume, but rather a suite of skills. Knowing lots of languages won't hurt at all, but is there a point where it doesn't really help much? If one went into web-development, you would use html, javascript, php, java, maybe C# for asp.net. If you went into software design, you would want C++, C#, java, and objective C. I suppose you don't want to be too diverse, resulting in a "jack of all trades master of none" situation. But how many?

How many different skills will a company usually look for? What skill sets/combinations are good/often useful?

I'm kind of asking many of the mods and experts, who have knowledge of many languages:
Do you actually use all of them?

This post has been edited by crazyjugglerdrummer: 24 May 2009 - 08:47 PM


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Replies To: Is it possible to know too many languages?

#2 girasquid  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 25 May 2009 - 09:35 AM

There isn't really a downside to knowing a lot of languages - the skills and thinking patterns you learn while working with one will sometimes make other languages easier(or, occasionally, harder) to work with.

That being said, you're speaking as if you have to put all of the languages you know on your resume - when you should be tailoring it. If you're applying for a web development job and you just so happen to know Java, C/++, and DarkBASIC, you probably don't need to put those on your resume.

My two primary languages are Perl and Python, along with both .Net languages and a smattering of PHP - while I'm still good enough with all of them to get things done, I'd say that after working with Python for a few months my other skills have atrophied. I still use most of the languages I know from time to time.

tl;dr - learn as many languages as you want. Even if you never use lisp, there's no harm in learning it if you want to.
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#3 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:24 AM

That depends on whether or not you're all about the Ca$h. I'm not. I learn everything I can get my hands on. If you only care about programming, just as a job instead of as a hobby or lifestyle, then only learn what you think you need and go from there. I don't think you can know too many languages, everything you learn makes you a better programmer. I find that if you don't program in each language you learn, every so often that it eventually begins to fade and you have to re-learn certain things about said language, but the most important concepts stick. It really depends on your intentions. If you only want to learn new languages just so you have a set of skills to put on your resume, I guess there might be a point where new languages don't help much. However if you have a thirst for knowledge, and you want to know as much as possible, then no, there is no limit.
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#4 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 25 May 2009 - 12:40 PM

There are two questions here.

One, is there a point where learning a new language isn't worth it? Nope. New languages will always teach you something, it's never really a wasted effort. And knowing something common place it one language will often give you a path to take in another that's uncommon but useful. To be honest, unless you keep up with it, you'll probably loose a little. I wrote a templated website in Tcl once; I can't even tell you what Tcl looks like at this point.

Two, do all my languages crowd my resume when I go for my leet job? Yes, probably. You'll often see things like ".NET WinForms developer wanted, NOT ASP.NET" so leave your web dev skills off that resume. I once saw a job listing for "Oracle DBA, not developer," so put PL/SQL but not Oracle Forms.

It's possible, even probable, that your breadth of knowledge will server you well on a given job site. But you can point that out after you get the job.
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#5 prabh  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 25 May 2009 - 03:57 PM

If You want every thing is possible

Nothing is impossible
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#6 mikerka  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:19 PM

No, there isn't really a downside to knowing too many languages. In my personal opinion, the more the better. You may want to stay away from some of them, however (a la Visual Basic)...they may teach you bad habits.
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#7 crazyjugglerdrummer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:25 PM

Okay that makes sense, only put the primary languages your employers are looking for on your resume, but it never hurts to learn something new. I was thinking about you when I said "to those who know tons of languages," baavgai :D.

I'm not really ALL about the cash :). I really like programming, but I don't really care all that much about what language its in, so I figure I might as well use some of those that are big and have a large innovative user group. So I'm going to try on java, C#, and PHP (and I'll take suggestions!)
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#8 prajayshetty  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 26 May 2009 - 01:02 PM

see learning many languages is possible and no one is asking you to memorise programming language the best thing that you can do is to study the CONCEPT of the language clearly and once that done just understand what classes do now i mean to say understand about functions if you have a rocking ide like netbeans,eclipse and visual studio i dont thin so you have to memorise all the function and every language teaches you something new ya one more thing when it comes to exam and that time you know that in written exam there we cant use the ides and all at that time i study only as per to syllabus at the last i can say you only one thing and that is

PRACTICE MAKES MAN PERFECT so in code we can say it like this
while(!perfect)
{
practice();
}


and the point on which language to use it depends on your project or task whatever you call it as
Edit:spelling mistake

This post has been edited by prajayshetty: 26 May 2009 - 11:04 PM

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#9 sbromley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 26 May 2009 - 02:54 PM

Kind of like what prajayshetty said. You shouldn't base how good of a programmer you are based on how many languages you know, but on your understanding of computing concepts, theory, and design. Maybe instead be familar with what functionality a certain language provides. Example if I want to run cgi scripts I'll probably start looking at pearl scripts to go with them. I rarely use pearl, but I've certainly scripted before and know the concepts so its only a matter of syntax.

On resumes taylor them towards the company you're applying to, and make sure you let them know of your extensive computer science knowledge!

Hope this Helps!!
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#10 firebolt  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 26 May 2009 - 03:16 PM

Have you seen the list that PsychoCoder and No2Pencil have? They have a fairly extensive list, but as long as you can apply them, it is ok.
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#11 bflosabre91  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:35 AM

View Postmikerka, on 25 May, 2009 - 04:19 PM, said:

No, there isn't really a downside to knowing too many languages. In my personal opinion, the more the better. You may want to stay away from some of them, however (a la Visual Basic)...they may teach you bad habits.



vb6 maybe. vb.net, your wrong.

Learn as many languages that you think you can handle. The only limit i can see is the limit of your brain :)
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#12 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:29 AM

View Postbflosabre91, on 27 May, 2009 - 07:35 AM, said:

vb6 maybe. vb.net, your wrong.


Nope, correct. VB.NET obfuscates object oriented methodologies and teaches you that case doesn't matter. Encourages the programmer not to initialize declared variables through awkward syntax. Intentionally hides or dumb downs fundamental elements of the framework, like delegates and static. The list is long, actually.
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#13 Locke  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 27 May 2009 - 10:56 AM

Yeah, and speaking of long lists of languages...have you SEEN baavgai's Expert In: list? :blink: :)

VB.NET is a blessing and a curse for VB. It's an improvement over VB6, but like baavgai said, it teaches bad habits. A lot of beginning classes use VB (in some form, be it 6 or .NET). It's easy to use, mainly. But true, it can obstruct the programmer's thinking correctly in other languages.

I took a VB class alongside my second Java class, so I wasn't too bad off with learning VB and developing concepts out of it. The things I learned in VB were basically just basic applications I could have done in Java using Swing. Very basic calculation programs, mainly.

This post has been edited by Locke: 27 May 2009 - 10:57 AM

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#14 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 27 May 2009 - 03:38 PM

View Postcrazyjugglerdrummer, on 25 May, 2009 - 04:25 PM, said:

Okay that makes sense, only put the primary languages your employers are looking for on your resume, but it never hurts to learn something new. I was thinking about you when I said "to those who know tons of languages," baavgai :D.

I'm not really ALL about the cash :). I really like programming, but I don't really care all that much about what language its in, so I figure I might as well use some of those that are big and have a large innovative user group. So I'm going to try on java, C#, and PHP (and I'll take suggestions!)


DISCLAIMER: He asked for suggestions.

If you don't have particular reason for learning a language, I recommend Clojure, Haskell, and Scala. In that order. Only reason I'm not to keen on Scala is the fact that I can't stand the syntax. S-Expressions and Layout has spoiled me. Anyways, you might not be able to get a job with these languages, but you'll have loads of fun.
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#15 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is it possible to know too many languages?

Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:07 PM

I want to be an Expert in Cheese. (That's not a language right?) :P
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