Two Beautiful Amateurs

by gurdeepmattu

The discipline of linguistics has a history of giving uncredentialled amateurs a seat at the table. Indeed, one of the foundational linguistic theories of the twentieth century, which came to be called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, was based in part on the work of Benjamin Whorf, an inspector for the Hartford Fire Insurance company. Whorf never got an advanced degree, but he took graduate classes in his free time with the anthropologist and linguist Edward Sapir, in the nineteen-thirties, and he devoted his leisure hours to the study of Native American languages.

From Joshua Foer’s excellent New Yorker article, ‘Utopian For Beginners’:

After he began publishing his poems Stevens changed jobs again, becoming resident vice-president, in New York City, of the Equitable Surety Company (which, in turn, became the New England Equitable Company). He left that position in 1916 to work for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, where he remained employed for the rest of his life, becoming vice-president in 1934.

From The Poetry Foundation, full biography here