Katrik, the way I read Graham's essay, he does not consider the difference between "}" and "End Function" a measure of conciseness:
"I think a better measure of the size of a program would be the number of elements, where an element is anything that would be a distinct node if you drew a tree representing the source code."
"Ultimately, I think you have to go with your gut. What does it feel like to program in the language? I think the way to find (or design) the best language is to become hypersensitive to how well a language lets you think, then choose/design the language that feels best. If some language feature is awkward or restricting, don't worry, you'll know about it.
Such hypersensitivity will come at a cost. You'll find that you can't stand programming in clumsy languages. [...] someone used to dynamic typing finds it unbearably restrictive to have to go back to programming in a language where you have to declare the type of every variable, and can't make a list of objects of different types."
In fact, I have a hard time getting from the essay where exactly his complaints about Basic lie. In the first quote, he's basically (ha) saying that the use of syntactic sugar should not be counted toward the measure of verbosity. Yet he freely says that Basic is verbose. On what basis, then, if a) the number of elements is the same between, say, VB and C#, and b) if (second quote) VB permits dynamic typing, therefore reducing the verbosity of explicit declarations? Perhaps I'm missing something. That happens a lot, actually.
Chris, interestingly you're showing Basic-like syntax (algebraic) vs. Lisp-like syntax (nested functions), speaking broadly. Yet Basic is considered the more verbose language. Not here, though. So is Basic better than Lisp?
In C-like languages, the tertiary operator is definitely more succinct than the equivalent if() block. It compiles down to the same object code. Is it better? Does it make programming easier a) for the original programmer and b) for those who must maintain the code later?