Language nerds

I read a bunch of essays by David Foster Wallace and my favorite thing to come out of it was him talking about grammar nazis, language police, etc. He calls these people SNOOTs.

I submit that we SNOOTs are just about the last remaining kind of truly elitist nerd. There are, granted, plenty of nerd-species in today’s America, and some of these are elitist within their own nerdy purview (e.g., the skinny, carbuncular, semi-autistic Computer Nerd moves instantly up on the totem pole of status when your screen freezes and now you need his help, and the bland condescension with which he performs the two occult keystrokes that unfreeze your screen is both elitist and situationally valid). But the SNOOT’s purview is interhuman social life itself. You don’t, after all (despite withering cultural pressure), have to use a computer, but you can’t escape language: Language is everything and everywhere; it’s what lets us have anything to do with one another.

In another essay, he tells us about the true backbone of talent

As Mr. Ziegler off-air what him good at his job, and he’ll shrug glumly and say, “I’m not really all that talented. I’ve got passion, and I work really hard.”

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