Rethinking expertise

This is the perfect response to some reflections I had been having at some of the career-oriented sessions at LSA this past weekend, when folks would be careful to explain which aspects of their jobs “really” used linguistics. From my perspective, many of our skills become relevant – often in surprising ways – some of which we call “linguistic” skills and some of which we don’t, but realy what I may have been observing was the policing of boundaries of knowledge and navigation of expertise – beautifully observed!!! Am definitely going to be subscribing to this blog! Thanks Nick!!!


I spend a great deal of my professional life coming to grips with impostor syndrome. Of course, empirically I appear to be doing just fine — I have a good and by all accounts hard-to-get job, and people I look up to find my ideas worth their time. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find myself working with some of them one day. But still, when I sit down with my scientific peers, I feel consistently sure that the person across the table is much smarter and more qualified than me.

This is not an uncommon feeling. Anyone with the ability to introspect feels some degree of insecurity about how they stand relative to those around them. I find it’s especially common, though, among academics. This is probably due to a variety of factors including a competitive job market and being held to very high standards. But today I want to focus on…

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