In a recent interview about Scala and Clojure, Martin Odersky of Scala gave some interesting answers including the following:
Q: Rich Hickey is as well-read in the academic papers as anyone, but it’s Scala that has gained the perception as an “academic language”. Why do you think that has happened?
A: I think it’s mostly people who want to put Scala down making that comment. They take my EPFL affiliation and the papers we publish as an excuse to attach that label to the language. What’s funny is that often senior industrial Scala programmers get also accused as being academic. All this is rather ironical because Scala is foremost an industrial language with many well known companies using it. By contrast it’s much less taught at universities than Haskell or Lisp, let alone Java!
This raises the obvious question: in what sense is Scala "foremost an industrial language"?
As we understand it, Scala is developed by an academic team led by professor Odersky at an academic institution with academic funding for the sole purpose of academic research and this has culminated in a new academic paper every 7½ months on average over the past decade. That is not true of any industrial programming languages. Indeed, from our experiences with Scala this is reflected as a growth in esoteric language features when basic IDE support is neglected. Some people are trying to use Scala in industry, but that is true of many academic languages. Some funding has come from industry, including a surprising grant from Microsoft to update the .NET port of Scala, but that is presumably a tiny fraction of the total funding that has been spent on Scala. So this seems like rather an odd claim.