Who: Robert Beard
Company: yourDictionary.com Inc.
Has held title for: One year
Previous title: Sierzega Professor of Russian and Linguistics at Bucknell University
Tried to read a press release lately? Or are you guilty of having written one? If what you do for a living requires you to have a firm grasp of the lingua franca, you've got a lot to learn from Robert Beard, chief linguistics officer (and chief technical officer) at yourDictionary.com, a portal for language and languate-related products and services.
How big is your bookshelf?
Our site has more than 1,500 dictionaries representing more than 230 languages, in addition to other language tools, such as thesauri, translators, and language identifiers (which help you identify a word's language of origin). I oversee our staff of linguists.
That's a lot of book learning. Is everyone there so smart?
I have a PhD in Linguistics, and so does every member of our Advisory Council of Experts. I don't think anyone has a right to call himself an expert on a scholarly subject unless he has a PhD in it.
Any last words from the last word on words?
Yes. Please feel free to say "ain't." But use it correctly: It is the perfectly legitimate contraction of "am not." The next time you want to shock and amaze someone with your linguistic savvy, don't say, "Aren't I smart?" Say, "Ain't I smart?" And you are.
A version of this article appeared in the March 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.