CHAPTER 4Syntax and Semantics

After that whirlwind tour, we'll settle down for a few chapters to take more systematic look at the features you've used so far. I'll start with an overview of the basic elements of Lisp's syntax and semantics, which means, of course, that I must first address that burning question...

What's with All the Parentheses?

Lisp's syntax is quite a bit different from the syntax of languages descended from Algol. The two most immediately obvious characteristics are the extensive use of parentheses and prefix notation. For whatever reason, a lot of folks are put off by this syntax. Lisp's detractors tend to describe the syntax as "weird" and "annoying." Lisp, they say, must stand for Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses. ...

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