Friday, November 02, 2007

"An Open Letter"

"eternally stressed semanticist" posted a hysterical "open letter" (actually, a form letter with blanks to fill in) for anyone with expertise who does not have their expertise accepted by laymen.

In the followup post, the semanticist writes:

'Please, folks, I beg you, when an expert says "you have to believe me 'cause I'm all experty", maintain a healthy skepticism. But when an expert says "Here's what I think, based on my expertise, with supporting arguments formed with the facts and methods that I learned in the pursuit of this expertise": that's when you should please-I-beg-you listen.'

As always, I like to think about this in terms of poetry: how should one respond when a non-reader of contemporary poetry makes broad generalizations about the subject? I'd like to think I have some expertise on the subject (based on my large collection of poetry books, many of which I have actually read), and I want to tell people they are missing something (especially if said people are voracious readers of novels), but in the end, they never go off to read any contemporary poetry (or at least they never tell me they have).

By the way, I found this "open letter" because of Language Log, one of my favorite sites to read (although it is often far too busy for me to keep up with!). Interested in what linguists might say about language? Check it out!

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