Sunday, March 01, 2009

In Praise of Nerdiness

On a recent trip to Austria, I attended a reading with two friends and afterwards, we met up with several more of their acquaintances at a bar. It transpired that all six of us around the table were translators. Over drinks, we proceeded to discuss language, authors, translation, the translation industry, translation studies, having inter-lingual relationships, and much more. It was supremely nerdy, but in a great way, and I had a lot of fun.

Sometimes, when I complain about the poor English on signs or in articles or when I enthusiastically mention plans for learning another language, friends tease me for being too much of a dorky linguaphile. Once in awhile, it can be wonderful to hang out with other word nerds, gleefully chatting about all aspects of language and translation.


marta said...

This is why I enjoy partying with my university mates – sooner or later someone always mentions Chomsky's deep and surface structures or at least some of the German equivalents of plants names. Plus our English is equally poor so I never feel as embarrassed as when I read the "the poor English on signs or in articles" line...

Karen said...


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Masood said...

Hi, it is great to see some others share my interests, yet I cannot fully agree that talking about language and translation makes one a 'nerd'! Does it?

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks for your comments, all!
Marta, I didn't mean to sound disparaging. But we translators and linguaphiles tend to enjoy pointing out (and despairing over) what's wrong with in terms of language usage.
Masood, I meant "nerd" in the most positive sense! I am proud of my nerdiness!
Best wishes,

Essentials said...

I too tend to 'point out' misspellings, especially in my country where I think there is a trend to name your business using an english word. There is a firm in the very square of my city which is called 'Atack'. I believe it is ignorance, is it not?
I still am learning the English language - grammar, vocabulary, even pronounciation - and I think it will never stop, but I think I and anyone should keep up the good work (even if that means going in a bar and be 'nerdy' - hehe)
All the best,

B.J. Epstein said...

I am not sure, Essentials -- some people like to use wrong or antiquated spellings on purpose. I tend to get annoyed by, for example, Ye Olde Candy Shoppe and similar names.
Bars are great places to work!
Best wishes,