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Thread: The word "Foo"

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    Default The word "Foo"

    Let's discus it.

    I have a question to start us off: what part-of-speech is it? I thought it was a pronoun, because it can replace a noun, but apparently I was wrong because someone thought I was discussing two separate "contexts" when I mentioned that it was a pronoun and a coding foo. (I just used the subject of this discussion within said discussion! Neat!)

    What would it be called? Maybe "provariable" or "prostring" but those both sound kind of silly... which I suppose they should, since comparing naturalistic languages and programming ones is an admittedly-silly thing to do in the first place!

    On a related note, why does "proverb" mean "traditional metaphorical story" rather than "word that replaces a verb" anyway? That's confusing.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by enderlord99 View Post
    On a related note, why does "proverb" mean "traditional metaphorical story" rather than "word that replaces a verb" anyway? That's confusing.
    Because only one of those is an actual thing in English?

    (Also, in the contexts I'm familiar with the term "foo" being used in, it's more of a vague noun a la "stuff" than a pronoun per se.)
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by enderlord99 View Post
    I thought it was a pronoun, because it can replace a noun, but apparently I was wrong because someone thought I was discussing two separate "contexts" when I mentioned that it was a pronoun and a coding foo.
    To clarify: The confusion came about when you were discussing the word as a pronoun and postulating using the LGBTAI+ tag. Which carries a much different connotation of discussion than a linguistic definition of a 'pronoun'.

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by DataNinja View Post
    To clarify: The confusion came about when you were discussing the word as a pronoun and postulating using the LGBTAI+ tag. Which carries a much different connotation of discussion than a linguistic definition of a 'pronoun'.
    It does? Yeah, I guess it does. Sorry about that.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Foo, like the rest of the larger family of placeholder names, does have commonality with pronouns, in that it stands in for a noun (and are used grammatically as nouns). The key difference is that pronouns are intended for referring to a noun specified elsewhere in the context, whereas with a placeholder name the context itself is what's important. Like, with code examples using foo, it doesn't really matter that a variable is named "foo" as opposed to some other name; what's important is that there's a variable.

    Unless you're talking about how Mr. T will "pity the foo", in which case I assure you "foo" is actually just how "fool" sounds when he says it.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    For what it may be worth, the Jargon File as maintained by Eric S. Raymond describes foo as the canonical example of a metasyntactic variable.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    "foo" and the related "bar" actually have nothing to do with programming but are now used as placeholder or temporary names in contexts such as programming. They are derived from an older military acronym, FUBAR. What FUBAR stands for is not forum appropriate.

    A pronoun can replace a noun to refer to something it replaces. A placeholder is used when there is nothing to replace.

    I have never heard foo used in a LGBTAI context.

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by enderlord99 View Post
    On a related note, why does "proverb" mean "traditional metaphorical story" rather than "word that replaces a verb" anyway? That's confusing.
    "Pro" = instead of, "verb" = speech. It is something you say instead of saying something else because it is applicable to the situation at hand and shorter than describing it in detail.
    Last edited by Fyraltari; 2019-08-25 at 06:57 AM.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    You can't just drop "Foo" in as a name and have it make sense.


    "Bob walked in, he then walked out."
    cannot become
    "Bob walked in, Foo then walked out."
    and mean the same thing.

    "Sarah had dinner, she then tidied up the house."
    cannot become
    "Sarah had dinner, Foo then tidied up the house."
    and mean the same thing.

    In both cases you've added a second person.


    Compare this conversation:
    "What is the name of the first man who walked in here?"
    "I don't know, let's call him Foo."
    "Well, Foo just dropped his book."
    "I'll go pick it up for him."
    "The second man needs help too, I'll go assist him."

    In the absence of knowing the person's name, they have given him a name. That temporary name now refers only to him, while "him" can still apply to anyone.

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawhide View Post
    "foo" and the related "bar" actually have nothing to do with programming but are now used as placeholder or temporary names in contexts such as programming. They are derived from an older military acronym, FUBAR. What FUBAR stands for is not forum appropriate.
    I think I remember being told a long time ago, that foo and bar were the names of a pair of registers in some mainframe or earlier processor.
    Last edited by halfeye; 2019-08-25 at 11:00 AM.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by enderlord99 View Post
    On a related note, why does "proverb" mean "traditional metaphorical story" rather than "word that replaces a verb" anyway? That's confusing.
    "Proverb" comes from the Latin " pro" meaning "to put forward" and "verbe" meaning "word/speech/story". Literally all it means is a story that's been put forward as an example.

    Meanwhile "pronoun" is from "pro" and "nomen" meaning "name". Literally it means something you put forward in place of a name.

    They're etymological cousins. One does not have prescedence over the other.

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    "Foo" isn't the only F-word that can act as multiple parts of speech.

    … I am speaking, of course, of "fight." You have "to fight," the verb, that can be modified to become a participle, a gerund, etc. like most verbs. You also have "fight", a noun with a related--but distinct--definition that can do its own. I have no clue why our word for "that thing where people are fighting" ended up the same as the verb, as opposed to a similar word (i.e., "fly" and "flight"), or a distinct word altogether.

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by enderlord99 View Post
    Let's discus it.

    I have a question to start us off: what part-of-speech is it? I thought it was a pronoun, because it can replace a noun, but apparently I was wrong because someone thought I was discussing two separate "contexts" when I mentioned that it was a pronoun and a coding foo. (I just used the subject of this discussion within said discussion! Neat!)

    What would it be called? Maybe "provariable" or "prostring" but those both sound kind of silly... which I suppose they should, since comparing naturalistic languages and programming ones is an admittedly-silly thing to do in the first place!

    On a related note, why does "proverb" mean "traditional metaphorical story" rather than "word that replaces a verb" anyway? That's confusing.
    I can honestly say this is the first time I have ever seen Foo used. The dictionary online gave me two origins; FUBAR getting used in coding to mean a bar of code, and an old Scottish word for love.

    Also the phrase "oh foo" as an expression of mild and old timey disappointment.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    History and etymology is fairly well discussed on wikipedia; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foobar

    I was wondering what it's relationship to 'foo fighter' might be, and that too is clarified on wikipedia; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foo_fighter

    As for trying to determine the part of speech the word is, it really is just slang, and used however a group of folks start using it as. And it seems more times than not they are not using it with any concern for parts of speech or grammar :)

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    I believe that "foo" can generally be translated as "something". Its value is that it makes it easier to differentiate between two "somethings", by calling them "foo" and "bar".

    In coding, we generally don't care exactly what "foo" is. It just means "something is here, what it is is beyond the scope of our present discussion but we need to allow for it."

    It's often used hypothetically, as in "Suppose (foo) happens, and this variable gets set to (bar)?" In this case the speaker is talking about something unforeseeable, and implying that we may need more exception handling to keep the code running smoothly in the event of the unexpected.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    This is just crazy talk, u

    ;)

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    This is just crazy talk, u

    ;)
    No no, that's 'Fou.'

    But as for what part of speech it is, whatever it is, it's clearly a noun.
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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by truemane View Post
    No no, that's 'Fou.'

    But as for what part of speech it is, whatever it is, it's clearly a noun.
    It's not a dangling participle?

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    Default Re: The word "Foo"

    Quote Originally Posted by truemane View Post
    No no, that's 'Fou.'

    But as for what part of speech it is, whatever it is, it's clearly a noun.
    that's why I included the ", u" ;)

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