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Re: On nerds and dreamers

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Thursday, March 3, 2005, 1:15
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jörg Rhiemeier" <joerg_rhiemeier@...>

> Hallo! > > The survey question whether one considers conlanging a "nerdy" activity > caused me to think about nerds and dreamers. > > A "nerd", as I understand the word, is someone who is single-mindedly > pursuing one special field. This type is especially common in the > computer trade, and I learned to know many nerds when I was studying > computer science in university. These people do almost nothing > without computers. Their hobbies are computer programming, computer > games, computer this and computer that. At most, they play chess, > or role-playing games, but the latter without actually role-playing, > reducing the game to dice-rolling and rules-lawyering. Some nerds > conlang, but their conlangs are mostly loglangs, engelangs or other > non-naturalist projects, often inspired by computer programming > languages more than by human languages. And there is almost never > a conculture attached. > > Another personality type who is frequently mistaken for a nerd is > the "dreamer". Unlike the nerd, who isn't really all that imaginative, > the dreamer is a very imaginative person. Dreamers like to play > with imaginary worlds of some kind. Some have discovered computers > as tools for their imagination, but that is far not necessary. > Dreamers often play role-playing games, but unlike nerds, they > actually role-play. Many dreamers are conlangers, and their conlangs > are often naturalist and usually quite fanciful and accompanied > by elaborate conculture. A nerd could never build something like > Quenya or Tsolyani; it takes a dreamer to do that. > > What do you think? > > Greetings, > > Jörg.
I think you raise some *fascinating* questions here with a fair attempt to define these two terms, and I was interested to read the other comments made. First of all, let me thank you ALL for your long, enthusiastic responses to my survey! I really appreciate it, and I'm busy going through your remarks. I hope to share some of the "statistics." :) I posed the "nerd" question on the survey hoping it would get some kind of reaction and it did--many of you said "what's wrong with being a nerd?" or, "I guess so, but I don't care"; I myself have no sense of what this term really means--or even what the common cliche "get a life" means anymore--I've discovered that for a lot of people it seems to mean a 'lovelife.' :) ...for others, it means getting a profession, or getting married. :) It's another ambiguous phrase defined by the people who use it. Comments? I was hoping that we'd come around to some kind of definition of "nerd," so thanks for your post, Joerg. It seems to have a generally negative connotation when used by people who think themselves non-nerds. It might have something to do with people who pursue the life of the mind over pursuits considered more socially and visibly prestigious: sports, social skills, dress that suits the "occasion," the right kind of argot, and so forth. Many people who DO have those "attributes," but who engage in glossopoeia and mythopoeia or who role-play or whatever, sometimes wish to keep their "life of the mind" private from the other crowd they run with, and that includes one's professional colleagues, the people next door, the guys or gals in your dorm... I for one find these people to be amazingly eclectic, and many of them possessed of an intellectual sophistication and versatility--in other words all of you--that makes them more interesting to me than the average Joe who is dressed in the latest jeans, wearing the latest footwear, making the most money, driving the neatest sportscar, or even writing the most cutting edge form of academic criticism, but who is bereft of any real imagination. Another quagmire: what do we mean by "sophistication"? I qualified it above with "intellectual," because the word has been coopted by the status seekers. Originally, however, it was quite negative as a term. It meant "tired out," one who had "ennui," wilted with over-knowledge of the world and its cynicism; and someone who had replaced naturalness with artifice. As for "dreamer," that term is likewise ambiguous, with negative connotations in some sectors, and positive ones in others. Yaguello uses it quite negatively in Les Fous du langage... so one again must ask if it is applied to people by other people who don't consider themselves to be dreamers, and who equate the word with "inutility." But those who do consider themselves dreamers can see the productivity of other dreamers. Was Edison a dreamer in his youth? It is, after all, dreams that can inspire invention, art, or change. It is an especially intriguing idea when applied to conlanging, and that's why I was interested in seeing responses to the hobby/art question. Are these distinguishable? Do we paint to paint or do we paint to sell? In the past, I've had comparisons between conlanging and poetry writing. Interestingly, only a few of you bit the bait about sensuality and even sexiness of conlanging. Kou wrote years ago that it was like living in one's own baroque DREAM. That's why I posed it again. About the sexiness of conlanging... ;) what is "sexy"? It doesn't have to mean exciting sexual desire. Meanwhile, back to nerd and geek. What do others think is a distinction between these two? "Geek" does seem to have gravitated more to the technical side than "nerd" does. Again, yry poy nwetis firrimby (I'm very grateful) Sally Euil Yrlo toil epa hsinva mareadaf! (Praise God for the left eye!)


Sanghyeon Seo <sanxiyn@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Kevin Athey <kevindeanathey@...>Geeks and Nerds (was Re: On nerds and dreamers)
David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>