Real programmers can write assembly code in any language.
(Larry Wall).

As far as I can make out, Mr. Larry Wall is trying to say that to a real programmer any language can have the same functionality as ASM. But I seriously do not understand. How can you write assembly code in high level languages like Perl, Python, Java and C#? Languages like Perl and Python don't even have pointers. Or Does he mean something else? What is Mr. Wall actually trying to say?

  • 6
    Its tongue in cheek. Unfortunately sarcasm translates badly to the written word. Jul 30, 2011 at 5:19
  • 1
    I don't know how you could quote Larry Wall, and spell Perl in all-caps. Jan 2, 2012 at 0:57

3 Answers 3


It is a tongue-in-cheek mockery of an earlier meme about "real programmers" which is a variation of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy and "real men don't eat quiche" which was a very popular book.


Original thread where Wall stated this.
Monty Python version, The Four Yorkshiremen is a mockery of this whole thing.

"Real programmers" don't need high level languages, and The Story of Mel is the exemplar of this. And it was uphill both ways!

  • Mel has earned my respect. Converting an infinite loop into a jump instruction is pure genius. Though I think that may have been an accident. (+1) Jul 30, 2011 at 4:48
  • I bookmarked your answer
    – user2567
    Jul 30, 2011 at 7:34
  • 4
    The story of Mel is one of those things that simultaneously brings me out in a cold sweat while earning my complete respect. But still terrified.
    – temptar
    Jul 31, 2011 at 17:24
  • 1
    The Four Yorkshiremen sketch actually predates all of the other references here. *8') It even predates Monty Python, though theirs is probably the most recignised performance: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Yorkshiremen_sketch & youtube.com/watch?v=-eDaSvRO9xA
    – Mark Booth
    Aug 2, 2011 at 10:19
  • 5
    I'd rename the "no true scotsman" to "you're not Agile enough" ;)
    – Aadaam
    Aug 6, 2012 at 16:30

It's a snarky/funny suggestion that many programmers end up writing generic, plodding, one-step-after-the-other code, even when the language provides sophisticated constructs that would allow for clever and efficient solutions if only the programmers would take the trouble to learn what the language has to offer. It's a follow-on to the ancient quip that "real programmers can write FORTRAN in any language".


Assembly languages are the most primitive programming languages. There are much better programming languages, but “real programmers” (those who grew up with assembly languages and refused to learn anything new) can write “assembly code”, that is code not taking advantage of any improvements in the language, in any language.

PS. “Being able to write assembly code in any language” is not a compliment.

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