During a recent conversation, a friend of mine challenged me: Why do you refer to yourself as a language geek? A fair enough question, and one I’m happy to answer.
To do so, I’d like to work backwards, perhaps, from more specific to general qualifications.
Jane Gallop is the Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she was my instructor. In her class, I learned a technique called “close reading,” which focuses on the words, syntax, grammar, and the idiosyncrasies of a particular text. Close reading requires microanalysis of word choice, punctuation, and vocabulary, in an effort to more thoroughly understand the work and sometimes its author. It’s about as obsessive about language as you can get.
Studies in Literature and Cultural Theory.
An MA in English? Big deal. Actually, yes, with regard to SEO and content creation, it’s a very big deal. Graduate programs in the humanities demand the analysis and synthesis of complex information, in an effort to understand humans.
The themes, strategies, and styles that I’ve studied (not to mention the content) allow me a keen insight into what makes people tick. Want to motive a person to perform a desired action, even one as simple as clicking on a link? You’d better have a good understanding of how language, thoughts, and words affect people. After all, language is the building block of culture, society, and reality.
Studies in Marketing
Finally, I decided to return to school a few years ago to pursue a degree in business. Much of my program was centered upon marketing, in particular, how to a) create compelling stories to connect with potential customers and b) how to develop content that establishes your brand as an authority.
Fascination with SEO
During my marketing studies, I became mesmerized by SEO strategies, so I decided that this would be a focus of my learning. How are people using words to access information? What are the most popular terms? Where are the long tail opportunities? What can research tools and data reveal about search behavior?
A Lifelong Obsession with Words
I read my first real novel at the age of 8, when I discovered The Hobbit, but my parents and grandparents had been reading to me since I was born. I became a voracious reader, taking in anything I could get my hands on. My love of literature became a love of communication and teaching, and there begins the trajectory of my professional career.
I spend a great deal of time thinking about words. About their meanings, their histories, and their value. Why this word and not another? How does this word relate to the words that precede or follow it? Doe this word have different meanings in different cultural contexts? Is there room for misinterpretation or ambiguity? All important to me.
So Those Are My Qualifications
Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments below. Cheers!