Thursday, November 5, 2009

A LEGO language barrier?

It's easy to feel frustrated when you can't communicate with somebody else. Add to that an inability to find the right LEGO brick in a pile of thousands, and you're close to seeing what an adult looks like when he has a temper tantrum.

There is a language to playing with LEGO pieces -- you develop names in your family for the bricks that you need someone else to hand to you or keep an eye out for in the jumbled assortment before you. In a spot on article for The Morning News, writer Giles Turnbull wanted to see what different kids called various parts in what he terms, "LEGO nomenclature." So he set up an experiment at a LEGO retail store asking the children to name the pieces that they were shown. The result is a fascinating chart as to how the kids, who range in age from five to seven years old, refer to slopes, plates, and tiles.

The names for various parts was one of the most intimidating aspects of getting back into playing with LEGO as an adult. My names for parts are not the accepted or at least, more universal, names. It would be like going to work in an engine room and referring to everything as doo-hickeys and whats-its.

Perhaps more challenging was that once I learned one name for a part, I would invariably discover that other terms were used interchangeably. Although it also presents hope that the word you've invented will catch on as the descriptor and you will have named a part just like the scientist who is granted the naming rights to a new species. Bender seems to be a logical name for many pieces of LEGO, but as of yet, none has stuck.

1 comment:

Polzic said...

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