Friday, March 16, 2007

Linguistically Speaking

I played Boggle with some colleagues over lunch. There's a group that plays regularly but I never do because I always want to get out and walk over lunch.

I do errands, I walk up to Dupont and back, I mince over to the allergist for a shot. Whatever takes me out and about. It makes me crazy to just sit all day. But today is rainy and cold and gross. Not walking weather. I would say the weather sucks ass, but I'm not using that expression anymore.

I hadn't played Boggle since I was ten. And it's so much fun! It combines two things I love - words and patterns. For those of you who don't remember Boggle, you shake up 25 cubes of letters, let them settle, and then have three minutes to write down all the (minimum four letter) words you can make. The letters have to be touching, at least by a corner.

When time runs out, you read through your lists and cross off any words that other people also have. Part of the fun was how impressed we were with good words.


"Oooh! Good one!"

We're a very enthusiastic bunch. And these people are great. I mostly came up with a whole bunch of four letter words that other people invariably had. And then they went on to list their 6, 7, 8 letter words. Next rainy day I'm playing again.

Last weekend I was out at dinner with a guy. I can't remember how it fit in the conversation, but he somehow wound up mentioning the Incas.

And I said, very animatedly, "Oh, from a linguistic standpoint the Incas are so interesting!"

I went on to describe how impressive it was that they were able to spread their language, considering how enormous the empire was. They successfully instituted Quechua as the language of administration from Quito to Santiago without trying to eradicate any of the local languages and dialects. I wrote a paper about this in grad school. I thought it was fascinating.

At some point I realized he was laughing.

"What? What's so funny?"

"You just don't really hear people say 'from a linguistic standpoint' very often. Or ever. You're so excited about this."

"You had no idea what a nerd I am, did you?"

People never expect it. It's like I'm a secret nerd till you get to know me. And then you realize I am a huge nerd. And I like it.


  1. What a funny story. I'm glad you've embraced your inner nerd, and are comfortable with her. Personally, I think that learning is a real thrill. Incas, fingerprints, weather patterns; things come up every day that I don't know. I think that's great because it gives me the chance to lear about something new. Does that make me a nerd?

  2. And a few more rainy days and you'll be embracing your super-competitive inner nerd, too. Your co-workers better watch out!

  3. 2x4 - I don't know! Maybe? I think of nerd in a positive way, though. I love people who get excited about learning new things or thinking in new ways.

    DCup - You might be right! I'll let you know...

    G&D - I don't know if he was impressed but he wasn't intimidated. He's really bright. And I'm trying to clean up my language in general and "sucks ass "really bothers my mom. From a linguistic standpoint, you are absolutely right, though. :)


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