Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nerds   posted by Razib @ 7/28/2007 07:21:00 PM

Who's a Nerd, Anyway?:
But the nerds she has interviewed, mostly white kids, punctiliously adhere to Standard English. They often favor Greco-Latinate words over Germanic ones ("it's my observation" instead of "I think:), a preference that lends an air of scientific detachment. They're aware they speak distinctively, and they use language as a badge of membership in their cliques. One nerd girl Bucholtz observed performed a typically nerdy feat when asked to discuss "blood" as a slang term; she replied: "B-L-O-O-D. The word is blood" evoking the format of a spelling bee. She went on, "That's the stuff which is inside of your veins," humorously using a literal definition. Nerds are not simply victims of the prevailing social codes about what's appropriate and what's cool; they actively shape their own identities and put those codes in question.

I think the researcher interviewed is a bit too obsessed with straight-jacketing nerds into a racial identity (white). I speak as a brown nerd, though I doubt I'm as socially antagonistic toward colloquial slang and conventional mores as the archetypical nerds. Rather, I think the key to nerditutde is the lower emphasis on being accepted and so assimilating the normative tardish value system (who cares if your friends make fun of you for reading? Keep at it!). Of course, many more socially aware intrinsic nerds become adept at mimicking the tardish comportment during high school, only to show their "true colors" in college when they continue to focus academically and go on to professional jobs. Any true nerdologist has to grapple with the reality that the majority of nerds might actually be "passing."