Mary Bucholtz, a linguist at the University of California,
Santa Barbara, has been working on the question for the last 12 years.
She has gone to high schools and colleges, mainly in California, and
asked students from different crowds to think about the idea of
nerdiness and who among their peers should be considered a nerd;
students have also “reported” themselves. Nerdiness, she has concluded,
is largely a matter of racially tinged behavior. People who are
considered nerds tend to act in ways that are, as she puts it,
That's how Benjamin Nugent's New York Times essay "Whos [sic] A Nerd?" begins.