Do you refer to nerds as “my people”? I know it’s not just me, since I have heard others of my tribe doing so. Here is a blast from 1999 about how our people speak: Fanspeak.

On those occasions when she showed up at a con to meet Elise, she saw lots of fans in groups talking. To her they seemed angry and rude. To Elise they seemed nothing of the sort. Observing them more closely, she realized that they were using different social cues, different body language, different eye contact, and even different ways of forming vowels than what she jokingly called “my people”, or what for convenience sake I’ll call mundanes. …
We also speak in larger word groupings between breaths. This does not necessarily mean that we speak faster; we just pause for a shorter time between words — except where there is punctuation. … We use punctuation in our spoken utterances. Sometimes we even footnote.
What we say in those large word groupings is also different. We tend to use complete sentences, and complex sentence structure. When we pause, or say “uh”, it tends to be towards the beginning of a statement, as we formulate the complete thought. The “idea” or “information” portion of a statement is paramount; emotional reassurance, the little social noises (mm-hmm) are reduced or omitted. …
We interrupt each other to finish sentences, and if the interrupter got it right, we know we’ve communicated and let them speak; if they get it wrong we talk right over them. This is not perceived as rude, or not very rude.
… We accept corrections on matters of fact and of pronunciation; when I asked her about whether fanspeak might be related to Asperger’s Syndrome, and mispronounced “Asperger’s”, I was corrected in mid-sentence by the man sitting next to me, corrected myself, thanked him, and finished the sentence. One Doesn’t Do That in Mundania. Fans understand that mispronouncing words one has only read is very common in fandom, and not mortally embarrassing. …

As they say, read the whole thing. I totally footnote when I speak, citing sources in case you want to follow up for more information. I’m not sure how much that helps or is caused by blogging with links in text.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “Fanspeak”

  1. Wait where is this mythical group of people that don’t mind being corrected? I want to meet them!

  2. I find mispronunciation is often a sign that someone reads more than they talk. As such, it signifies a positive trait, so I look upon it favourably rather than seeing it as faux pas.

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