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I think it should be made explicit wether "error" is a special form or procedure. The spec calls it a procedure first and later says it's a "procedure or special form". Things like (define my-error-handler (make-parameter error)) are of course not possible with a special form. One also can not use "apply" on it. But a special form (as Marc Feeley has pointed out) could make the location in the source file available for diagnostics. I would propose an additional special form that can invoke the procedure "error": (define-syntax signal-error (syntax-rules () ((_ msg arg1 ...) (error msg arg1 ...)) ) ) An implementation can then use whatever mechanism it has to provide the current line-number and/or source file. ("signal-error" is admittedly not very good. But I couldn't think of anything else) cheers, felix