13 November 2007

Pronunciation and the Art of Faking It*

So, it appears that academics and academic-wannabes including grad students are susceptible to impostor syndrome, also known as that-sinking-feeling-you-get-every-day-because-you're-worried-that- higher-ups-will-realize-you're-an-incompetent-hack. Sometimes the syndrome is no pathology: you genuinely have little grasp of that which you are currently talking about / the article you were supposed to read but were instead blogging / your professor's highly respected research that you just wrote an essay on.

Or, take another case: those sub-sub-subfield-specific terms that are not quite jargon but not far from it, and the pronunciation thereof. There's not quite anything like the feeling of fraudulence that comes from that relatively simple yet sophisticated term that you just stumble over every time you encounter it (often because there is more than one way to pronounce it - one for the vulgar and one for the noble.) "Operationalization." "Constitutive." "Purposive." "Hobbesian." You know what the words mean, damnit. You just can't pronounce them with the easygoing flow of... a non-phony.

*Bears no relation to Strauss, Leo. 1952. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Glencoe: Free Press. (I have not even read this book).

1 comment:

Jacob T. Levy said...

"Hobbesian" admits of at least two valid pronunciations. You're not exposed as a fraud for using either one.