My first language, C/C++. There's tremendous freedom and variety. It's got all the good as well as the bad. You take your pick. You can do templates or OOP or vanilla C. There's no interpreter to get in the way of what you want. And there's an endless richness to it - which can equally be considered a drawback. Since I have a physics background, I'm also a fan of Fortran. Did you know there's a 2008 version? It still comes out as the fastest** language and can teach you low-level details. It also changes little details with C, e.g. parameter passing details, start by one indexing, column major order, no pointers etc. So it can serve as a nice compare and contrast with C.
Of course, no one can live without a scripting language. And Python is far and away the favorite. Though I'm curious to try Julia lately.
** Of course, you can program C/C++ to be just as fast. But if you're careless, then Fortran ties your hands more.
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