I recently had a question on the proper name of an operation that performs a double complement migrated to a software forum. This question was not a software question, but merely a question about terminology. If I had thought this question was appropriate for a software forum, I would have asked it there. Furthermore, there are very similar questions to mine posted on this forum which were upvoted and answered multiple times. Here is one similar question. What is an antonym for "refactoring" with regards to programming?

Just because a question is centered around the context of software, does not mean it is a software question, it is inherently a question about the English language. And in fact, in this case, it should be rightfully downvoted and removed as off topic in such an environment.

my question was titled "I'm looking for an antonym of “complement” in the context of a programming language"

If this is not acceptable here, then please explain to me why the linked question is okay and even upvoted while mine is not.

  • @JJJ actually it doesn't, because the question is not about some random term used in this or that bit of code. But rather naming of an operator which is something that transcends any specific piece of code or language. Furthermore, migrating this to a software forum where it does NOT belong has caused me to have to respond to irrelevant answers and off color comments. It also does not explain why similar questions are still up. – S E Jul 10 at 20:17
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    Yea, I'm not sure if the migration was a good idea (TBH I don't know about the rules / scope of the software engineering site). As for closing it here on ELU though, I think the following quote from your question gives the impression that it's mostly a coding term you're looking for: "I realize this is just going to be internal names used inside my code". If there are real-world use cases then it might be better to phrase your question around those keeping in mind that single word requests require an example sentence. – JJJ Jul 10 at 20:22
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    Hey… whoever’s voting to close this question.. quit it. It’s a completely normal, legitimate, in-scope Meta question. If you think the question on main was properly migrated, fine, cool, so be it. Vote on the question and answer (or answers if we get more). But close-voting is wrong. – Dan Bron Jul 11 at 3:00
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    Could you please post the link to the migrated question? I am passionate about the English language, and I like answering but a complete idiot where computer programming is concerned. If I can understand the problem you talk about then anyone who is not a developer or programmer can. – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 16:58
  • @Mari-LouA its deleted but im not sure if you can still see teh changelog here. softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/430131/… – S E Jul 11 at 17:28
  • No, I need to have at least 10K in reputation in software engineering in order to see the post. What about the EL&U link that should still exist.... hang on I see if I can find it among the "tools" (available to users with 20K rep) What was the title of your question? – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 17:30
  • This is the migrated question english.stackexchange.com/questions/570722/… I'm looking for an antonym of “complement” in the context of a programming language [closed] – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 17:36
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    I'm sorry but you lost me at The operator denoted with the ~ character denotes a one's complement operation that flips all the bits in an integer to their opposite state This is not about the English language but about highly technical language for a specific field of work. – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 17:38
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    How is someone who is a linguist, an etymologist or just plain passionate about the English language supposed to know the answer to Where I am having trouble with naming is that there is another common operation that does not seem to have a standard name, the one denoted by the character + which returns the equivalent of a double complement of any of the above complement types (except for the logical complement) It's as if you are asking about naming a new Mathematical operator. – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 17:44
  • @Mari-LouA the details of the other operators are not very relevant they are just examples of what this is in contrast to. I don't see this as just naming a new operator so much as it is describing the function of something that performs an operation like double complement or a double negation. after the question was closed, someone here proposed numification which in context makes sense, though im not sure its the best. – S E Jul 11 at 17:52
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    Please understand for a user to be able to suggest an answer it's necessary for that person to have prior knowledge of computer programmes. For instance, this comment which was posted underneath tells me that there might be some disagreement about your analysis: I don't think unary + should be interpreted as double complement. It's a literal no-op/identity function in some languages. In others like JavaScript, it only converts its argument to Number. If you want a noun for that, consider numification The bits in bold make no sense to me! – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 17:53
  • @Mari-LouA none of these things are even unique to computer programs. When this was transferred to software stack exchange the first answer it got right away was a post telling me what certain programming languages call it. Which aren't consistent and frankly don't match their function. And honestly a google search could have told me that, which is why i was not looking for a technical answer. That and because of scope are the reasons why i didn't post it on a software forum. – S E Jul 11 at 17:58
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    I gave you my totally unbiased opinion, I said that if I understood the question I would say so, and as a result I could edit the question for it to enter the reopen queue. Or I could have cast my vote to undelete the question. Unfortunately, I don't understand the terms you are using in that very technical question. Tchrist's answer explains very well why your question is off-topic. In their shoes, I would have been more subtle and/or sympathetic but the reason for migration seems pretty solid to me. – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 18:06
  • @Mari-LouA i appreciate your feedback and looking into it, I can understand if it seems to come off too technical, and had someone said that up front i probably would have rewritten the question to be less so. It was definitely NOT the correct move to migrate the question, since it is not a software engineering question. At worst it should have been closed. – S E Jul 11 at 18:11
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    @tchrist I suppose, then, when someone is possessed by the Holy Spirit, they have been numified; and, of course, their value is 2. – Dan Bron Jul 11 at 22:43

I migrated it because it is off-topic on our site, but I had hoped that it might be acceptable elsewhere. It is off-topic here because we do not accept requests for help in choosing names of elements of computer programs.

Choosing names for operators in a programming language is off-topic here even when it’s one as trivial as unary plus. You’ll find that actual experts disagree about its behavior, let alone its name. This just goes to show that just because you can formulate a question in English does not suffice to make it on-topic for ELU.

I would expect a site that’s actually about computer programming to be the one to know programming-specific terminology, not one about English. Few of us here, if any, have the bona fides to be considered experts in computer programming languages or in the domain-specific terminology used in discussion those.

I myself cannot help wonder whether you are aware of the actual bit patterns that IEEE uses to represent positive and negative infinity in its various floating point formats, and why casually flipping their bits will not negate them.

As you see, these are not questions to be answered by linguists, only by technologists.

First you would have to explain to our English experts that you are using the word complement in a domain-specific manner that they would think of as negation not as complementation, and so you were asking about what to call negating a negation, or undoing an undo. You would also have to explain all those other terms you're throwing so casually about as though everybody here would already know what they mean. That you would first have to explain all this for a linguist or other English expert to be of any help to you shows why yours is not a good fit here.

If you expect help, you should first define the following terms of art from your post:

  • operator
  • operand
  • unary operator
  • unary
  • bits in an integer
  • one’s complement
  • two’s complement
  • logical complement
  • logical
  • complement
  • character
  • identity
  • type coercion
  • type
  • coercion

Why would a linguist know those all those bits of jargons in the senses that you have used them? They would not. So unless you first define all those, too, people won't know what you are talking about.

My own guess is that you'd likely soon find that you'd then have to explain what a noop is to them, too, for the definitions you provided would quickly lead to other terms known only to computer scientists.

There may not be an SE site for that specific question, but that does not make it a question about the English Language and its Usage.

  • I posted this question here because I thought a question about an operation which transcends any particular piece of code or language might be acceptable. I did not post it elsewhere, because i KNEW it was not applicable there. I find it odd that you claim i did not define those terms since the definition of many of those terms is right in my question. This suggests to me that you did not read my question with any intent to understand. Furthermore I have written implementations of IEEE floating point and I am published in IEEE journals. Your attacks on my character are not appreciated – S E Jul 10 at 21:58
  • Also I find it frankly laughable that you think so low of linguists as to think they can't handle a term such as complement or think that they have no sense of such a thing as a double negative. And as for some of the details of those definitions, those were only examples of related terms to be put into contrast with the term i was seeking. A linguist would not have to understand everything about the terms in the definition to answer the question posed, only to be able to see the contrast in terms. – S E Jul 10 at 22:29
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    @SE Attacks on your character, seriously? I did no such thing, for if I had I would have said something far more along the lines of You are without any doubt a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel, and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket-picking, thrice double-damn no-good son-of-a-lady-dog. The tone of your own comment regarding your low threshold for risibility, let alone the thinly veiled insults thereafter, speaks more to you than to us, and it is not a tone you should expect to be well received. Good day. – tchrist Jul 10 at 22:48
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    What do you call it when you imply that I don't even understand something as basic to my field as the representation of floating point numbers? Especially since I did not even bring that up in my question. You went out of your way to bring that up to insult me despite the fact that the question was specifically worded to avoid that very confusion. I on the other hand simply point out your insults and you say that I am insulting you. I think it is clear to anyone reading this what the truth is. – S E Jul 10 at 22:53
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    @SE Settle down. Nobody insulted you. Stop making up injury and then ranting about it. – tchrist Jul 10 at 22:54
  • that is factually incorrect – S E Jul 10 at 22:54
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    "Son-of-a-lady-dog'. Love it! – Michael Harvey Jul 10 at 23:53
  • @SE - 'I think it is clear to anyone reading this what the truth is.' - Yup. – Michael Harvey Jul 10 at 23:54

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