Leonid Fridman, in his essay “America Needs its Nerds,” employs vibrant word choice, sentence structure, and comparisons to convey his disdain for the disparity faced by nerds and geeks. Through these literary devices, he urges America to transform its attitudes and behaviors.
Fridman employs diction to accentuate the contrast between the true nature of nerds and how they are perceived in America. As an illustration, he provides a definition of the word geek, citing Webster’s New World Dictionary: “A geek…is a street performer who shocks the public by biting off heads of live chickens” (paragraph 2). By characterizing geeks in this way, Fridman prompts the audience to acknowledge the diminishing value placed on the pursuit of knowledge in American society. Through the description of geeks as outcasts, symbolized by their inequality, Fridman emphasizes how nerds are ostracized. This disparity is further reinforced by his use of the word ostracized when he states that “nerds are ostracized while athletes are idolized” (paragraph 3). Since childhood, nerds and geeks have consistently faced exclusion, and this marginalization continues into adulthood. In the United States, intelligent individuals are often excluded while athletes are admired, despite their lack of intelligence.
Fridman employs syntax and sentence structure in his argument to support his point. To illustrate, he poses questions such as, “how can a country where typical parents are ashamed of their daughter studying mathematics instead of going dancing, or of their son reading Weber while his friends play baseball, be expected to compete in the technology race with Japan or remain a leading political and cultural force in Europe” (paragraph 9). By asking these questions, the speaker urges the readers to reflect and take a stance in the battle for nerds. The questions highlight his belief that intelligence holds immense value. Additionally, Fridman uses conjunctions and word choices to achieve sentence balance. For instance, he states “…like nerd and geek for the intellectually curious and academically serious” (paragraph 1), “enough is enough” (paragraph 5), and “nerds and geeks must stop being ashamed of who they are” (paragraph 6). Employing sentence balance in Fridman’s essay reinforces his portrayal of intellectually superior individuals in society from the first paragraph. Sentence balance makes the message concise and prefigures the main point. The use of sentence balance signals to the reader that something needs to be done regarding modern America’s societal views.
In conclusion, the author highlights a contrast between America and East Asia, emphasizing that in many industrialized nations, including our economic rivals in East Asia, students who study hard are praised and serve as role models (paragraph 7). The author underscores the significance of nerds in East Asia as those who drive advancements in technology, contributing to their economic success. This comparison effectively conveys the importance of ending mistreatment towards intellectuals. Additionally, the author draws a parallel between professors and professional ballplayers in America. It is stated that average professional ballplayers receive greater respect and higher pay compared to faculty members at top universities (paragraph 8). Through this parallel comparison, the author demonstrates the need for equality between intelligence and physical or social skills. Currently, there exists an imbalance where faculty members are undervalued and receive less compensation than ballplayers.