One of the things my immediate family keeps telling me since I’ve come back from Shimer for the summer is that I talk differently. This originally puzzled me because I don’t think my speaking has changed. There certainly haven't been any huge alterations. I haven't suddenly started speaking in iambic pentameter and I haven't eliminated the letter 'f' or to be verbs entirely from my speech.
However despite my protests that not that much has changed my family members continue to comment on this change, and they universally blame Shimer for my new style of speaking. The validity of their claims aside, this isn't the first time I have thought about “Shimer Speak” as an idea and part of our community. People do talk differently here (though we listen differently as well, and the combination can trip people up). There are some words and phrases that have a special role in the Shimer community. I think they're probably widely used at most liberal arts colleges, words like; dichotomy, postmodern/pomo, construction, perception, informed by, subjectivity, the list could go on and on. As words they aren't really that uncommon or shocking and as I said I think they’re fairly standard for a liberal arts type college student.
I think the words we use don't really matter. I noticed this because these critiques of my speaking also take place in conversations where these words don't really show up. There is a Shimer style of talking that I maintain even when I've abandoned this specialized vocabulary to talk about topics that don't lend themselves to Shimer jargon (like potato salad, which I could talk about Shimer Style, but I don't). So to get to the point really quickly, we tend to use a lot of words to say things you might be able to get across with fewer terms.
The key word in that last sentence was 'might'. The good thing about a lot of terms is that they provide context for your words. If you're like me then you tend to read the many definitions and connotations of a word whenever you see it on a page, or hear it from someone's mouth. Other words are nice because they help me narrow down which of the many definition/connotation combinations a person intends. So you might be able to get your point across if you took all the ‘extra’ words out, but you also might fail and confuse people and spend the next twenty minutes revising your original statement.
Like most things at Shimer this kind of “Shimer Speak” isn't universal within the community; it is simply one of many styles that I happened to notice. I'm more familiar with this style than some of the others, because I tend to use it more. So to those of you who have one, what is your favorite kind of Shimer Speak?