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Q: Feynman reference on clear English in academia ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Feynman reference on clear English in academia
Category: Science > Physics
Asked by: erspertus-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 16 Apr 2006 15:59 PDT
Expires: 16 May 2006 15:59 PDT
Question ID: 719545
I recall a Richard Feynman anecdote from one of his books about when
he was on a committee with other academics.  The
transcriptionist/secretary expressed surprise on finding out that
Feynman was a professor, because Feynman actually wrote/spoke in a way
that could be understood.

Could you please find the anecdote?  I was able to search within his
first two memoirs at Amazon but did not find the story.  I assume it
was because I was using the wrong search terms.
Subject: Re: Feynman reference on clear English in academia
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 16 Apr 2006 16:57 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I believe your anecdote is from "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!,"
one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. I've transcribed a
portion below.

From page 282:

"There was only one thing that happened at that meeting that was
pleasant or amusing. At this conference, every word that every guy
said at the plenary session was so important that they had a
stenotypist there, typing every goddam thing. Somewhere on the second
day the stenotypist came up to me and said, 'What profession are you?
Surely not a professor.'
     'I am a professor,' I said.
     'Of what?'
     'Of physics -- science.'
     'Oh! That must be the reason,' he said.
     'Reason for what?'
He said, 'You see, I'm a stenotypist, and I type everything that is
said here. Now, when the other fellas talk, I type what they say, but
I don't understand what they're saying. But every time you get up to
ask a question or to say something, I understand exactly what you mean
-- what the question is, and what you're saying -- so I thought you
can't be a professor'!"

I hope this is exactly what you're looking for. If it is not, please
request clarification; I'll be glad to offer further assistance before
you rate my answer.

Best regards,
erspertus-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thanks very much.  You found it.

Subject: Re: Feynman reference on clear English in academia
From: pinkfreud-ga on 16 Apr 2006 18:10 PDT
Thank you for the five stars and the tip!

Subject: Re: Feynman reference on clear English in academia
From: irlandes-ga on 20 Apr 2006 18:16 PDT
That is indeed a great book.  One of my favorites as well. It was sad
about his wife, but a  great book.

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