Is Coding Always Done In English? Is It Possible to Code In Other Languages?

phases of a compiler

Is Coding Always Done In English? Is It Possible to Code In Other Languages?

Key Points

  • Coding is not always done in English, but English is still the most widely used language in programming.
  • Some programming languages rely solely on visual symbols, like blocks and colors, to make coding accessible to non-English speakers.
  • The history of coding dates back to the mid-20th century, with the development of binary code and assembly languages.
  • Python and JavaScript are two of the most popular coding languages today, both written in English.
  • While it is possible to code in other languages, creating programming languages in other dialects may not achieve the same international adoption as English-language models.

In our technologically advanced world, coding is like the backbone of our software and applications. If you’re familiar with coding, you probably know how important English is to it. This backbone is practically built upon the English language. This begs some questions, though: Is all code written in English? Can coding be accomplished in languages other than English? To find the answers to these pressing questions, let’s turn to the history of coding and examine some popular programming languages from around the world.

Is Coding Always Done in English?

Coding on laptop.
Coding is not always done in English, but English is still foundational to coding.


Contrary to what you might think, coding is not always done in English. However, English is still the most widely used language in programming. Even so, there have been countless coding languages created in other languages over the years. It seems these non-English programs have grown exponentially in recent years. These languages are designed to make coding accessible to people who aren’t comfortable or well-versed in the English language.

Some programming languages forgo the written word altogether and rely solely on visual symbols. Blocky and Scratch are two popular examples, the former relying on blocks and the latter relying on colors, sounds, and other audiovisual elements. To be clear, even non-English coding languages still depend on English characters from time to time. To understand why, let’s look at the history of coding itself.

The History of Coding

0s and 1s on a computer display.
Coding began as nothing more than 0s and 1s.


To trace back the history of coding, you have to go back to the early days of computing itself. Back in the mid-20th century, pioneering computer scientists Alan Turing and Grace Hopper laid the foundation for what we’d consider modern coding languages. Turing and Hopper developed binary code, which became the fundamental language of computers. It relies entirely on 0s and 1s to represent data — neither of which is exclusive to the English language.

As their work gave way to the 1950s, the world of computer science witnessed the birth of assembly languages. These languages made programming more legible to humans by relying on mnemonic codes for machine instructions. COBOL and FORTRAN were two forerunners at the time and APL followed shortly after in the ’60s. These assembly languages marked the first time programmers were allowed to write code resembling human language.

The 1970s brought even more significant advancements. C was one of the most notable of the decade. The code revolutionized programming by facilitating portability and efficiency like never before. This language also laid the foundation for UNIX, which further shaped our modern landscape of operating systems. By the 1980s, object-oriented programming such as C++ and Smalltalk gained momentum. These languages brought greater code reusability and organization in the field.

Python coding graphic.
Python is one of the most popular coding languages, and it’s written in English.


The 1990s saw a rise in scripting languages such as Python and JavaScript. These enabled faster development and interaction in the burgeoning Internet Age. The ‘90s also brought the birth of Java, which was designed for cross-platform compatibility. PHP also came about around this time. Its focus is on web server scripting. Don’t forget HTML and CSS, either. These two emerged as popular ways to structure and style online content.

Python is still one of the most popular coding languages today. It’s used in everything from web development to data analysis to artificial intelligence and beyond. And, as you might expect, it’s written in the English language. Because of the way both humans and machines can easily understand it, Python essentially works like a universal translator for computers. This simplicity and versatility are a big part of what continues to drive the programming language’s success.

The same can be said for JavaScript. It’s one of the pillars of the Internet, found on over 98% of all websites in some form or shape today. The beloved programming language is known best for making web pages interactive and dynamic. This means elements on the page can change or move in real time without needing to refresh the webpage. Pop-ups, interactive forms, browser games, you name it. JavaScript makes it happen. Unsurprisingly, it’s written in English too.

Is It Possible to Code in Other Languages?

Application web source code on monitor. Tensorflow AI concept. Web developer HTML code with CSS on screen. Monitor closeup of function source code. Developing programming binary code
While not all programming languages are written in English, most of the popular ones are.


The success of Python and JavaScript has sparked a big discussion about coding in other languages. Namely, is it even possible to write code in languages other than English? The answer is a resounding YES, but international coders don’t want it to stay this hidden forever. In fact, there’s an industry-wide push to make coding more inclusive by creating similarly great programming languages in other dialects.

Currently, coders that speak Hindi and Chinese are working on projects of their own to compete with English programming languages. Alas, the challenge is figuring out how to balance global communication with the specific parameters of a regional dialect. While it is certainly possible to code in other languages, it might not be feasible to expect these other coding languages to achieve the same kind of international adoption as Python or other popular English-language models.

Non-English Programming Languages

Ruby inscription on the background of computer code.
Ruby is one popular programming language that did not originate in an English-speaking country.

©Trismegist san/Shutterstock.com

To illustrate this point about non-English programming languages, let’s look at some of the most notable examples in the field today. From Japan to Russia to Brazil and beyond, these are a handful of non-English programming languages that have managed to find success in a Python-dominated English-language industry. Of course, it’s worth noting that — despite their origins — many still use English in some form or another.

Ruby (Japan)

Ruby is a programming language that originated in Japan but has since gone global. It was inspired by Smalltalk, BASIC, Java, and other English-based programming languages. Which might explain why it was adopted with open arms around the world.

Kotlin (Russia)

Kotlin is another great example of a non-English programming language. Originating in the Czech Republic, Kotlin is particularly popular among Android users and developers because of how easy it is to interoperate with Java.

Lua (Brazil)

Lua comes from Brazil. It’s a language valued most for its speed and simplicity in game development and embedded systems. Its lightweight design enables quick execution in all sorts of applications and programs.

R (New Zealand)

Out of New Zealand, we have R. While English is still the most prominent language in New Zealand, R nevertheless has its roots in a very distinct regional form of the dialect. This programming language is popular in statistical computing and data analysis fields.

What About Mathematical Symbols?

Mathematical symbols are like a universal language.


As we’ve learned, while English is the predominant language in coding, it’s far from the only option. More and more coding languages are being created in other languages. It’s all part of an effort to promote greater inclusivity and accessibility in the world of coding. Visual languages like Blockly and Scratch further transcend linguistic barriers, enabling diverse communities of all ages and intellects to engage in coding too.

It doesn’t stop there, either. Mathematical symbols are a huge part of many programming languages. They can be seen as a universal language of sorts, allowing programmers worldwide to communicate complex concepts without relying on any words at all. English will likely always be foundational to code, but as the landscape continues to evolve, the playing field will probably look a lot more level in the years to come.

Is Coding Always Done In English? Is It Possible to Code In Other Languages? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is coding?

Coding — also known as computer programming — is essentially a set of instructions a computer uses to perform tasks. Programmers use coding to communicate with computers, telling them what to do step by step.

Do you need to know math to code?

While a good grasp on basic math can help a coder, you don’t need to be a math whiz to code successfully. Basic math skills are useful for solving problems, but coding is just as much about logical thinking and breaking down tasks into simple terms.

Can I teach myself coding?

Absolutely! Many coding and programming resources are available online completely free (or at low cost). These instructional websites and basic tutorials provide fun, interactive ways to learn and practice coding at your own pace.

Which programming language should beginners start with?

If you’re just beginning your journey with computer programming, it’s best to start with user-friendly languages like Python. It’s readable, versatile, and widely used across the web. Once you grasp the basics, you can start to explore other languages based on your interests (such as web development, data analysis, and app creation).

Is coding only for experts?

No, not at all! Coding can be learned by just about anyone. Even those with the most basic understanding of the concepts can handle simple projects and grow their skills from there. Coding is about problem-solving and creativity, not just expertise. With practice, anyone can learn to code and create their own programs or websites.

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