Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Being an artist by nature and by education, the first thing that struck me when I joined Creo - other than the slogan "runs with scissors" printed on a fellow employee's t-shirt - was the language spoken by the engineers. Well, not the language actually, it was rather the words they used. Engineers insisted on using words precisely. Sloppy talk was taken as a reflection of sloppy thinking. And if there is one thing that engineers hate more than a lack of duct tape, it is a lack of clear, logical, discourse with the proper use of words chosen for their precise meanings. To me it seemed as if they had a different word for everything. So, to give you a feel for this engineering lingo, here are a few everyday items described using the engineer's unique jargon.

Portable compressed-graphite field plotter
This example of inscriptive technology is a dactylically manipulated lignin/cellulose-encased crystalline carbon allotrope allowing shear force deposition for semiotic and representational modification of planar compressed-cellulose substrates.

Dynamic load impact device
This is a manually activated, analog tactile/optical feedback-controlled rapid-deceleration iterative inelastic-collision generator for short-range ferrous cylinder bonding for application in voluntary fabrication, materials manipulation, and environmental modification.

Stereoscopic Image Correction System
The SICS is a user-installable, collapsible, free-standing cranially positioned pre-corneal refractive binocular visible spectrum optical compensator array of tandem acuity enhancing fixed-focus molded-polymer- or extruded-metallic-mounted fused silicate disks for macroscopic object recognition and text resolution applications.

Two-dimensional sociocultural referential logogram
Of course the engineers also required that precision in word usage must also extend to the captions used in Powerpoint marketing presentations to help ensure that prospective customers would receive clear and unambiguous information about the topic being presented.

While engineers will babble on using their esoteric phraseology I do take comfort in the fact that my fuzzy discourse (as daily speech is called in artificial language circles) is still beyond the understanding capabilities of the most sophisticated computers - and often, as they were quick to remind me, by engineers as well.

(Posted with thanks to Edward Tenner)

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