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What is a "Mechanical Vocabulary?"

I took a workshop this weekend with Thomas Mann. He told me that I
had a good “Mechanical Vocabulary.” I accepted the compliment, but
was too embarrassed to ask what it meant. Can anyone help to clue
me in?


Hey Stephanie I guess he meant that you understood the mechanical
terms and used them as and when needed…:slight_smile: What was the workshop

cheers Hema

...  He told me that I had a good "Mechanical Vocabulary." 

Hello Stephanie,

Does … it … mean … you … talk … like … a … robot … on …

Sorry, I have no idea, couldn’t resist a little tease. Maybe he just
means you describe shapes and objects well. I’m like that too. My
methodical way of doing so drives my wife up the wall though. She’s
more of a touchy feely person whereas I walk around with mechanical
drawings in my head. Vive la difference!

Trevor F.
in The City of Light


Why don’t you email Tom and ask him what he meant? He is a nice
guy-- as I’m sure you’ve found out-- and I have no doubt that he’ll
answer your question.

In my mind I think that he probably meant that you have a good
understanding and technical fluency with the mechanics of things: how
things are put together, how clasps function and how to go about
building an object.

Hope this helps,

    ...  He told me that I had a good "Mechanical Vocabulary." 

By your own unique arrangement and manipulation of elements you
"communicate" your vision through your work.

I believe his use of the term vocabulary in this instance refers
more to the “language” you use to communicate your work rather than
your speech skills and that he was appreciating the scope of
mechanics used in your work.

Pam Chott

The workshop was called “Containers to Wear.” He made the
comment/compliment after looking at what I was designing. I took it
as meaning that he liked the way I arrranged the various components
of my project - but since I had never heard that term before, I
wasn’t sure if there was something that I was missing.

I would suggest, Stephanie, that what Thomas Mann meant by “good
mechanical vocabulary” had less to do with your linguistic or lexical
distinctions when speaking about mechanical workings, as your innate
and learned inclinations to understand how mechanical elements
interact to produce required results and degrees of freedom. Perhaps
you have a sense of when a two-axis joint is appropriate and elegant
and how to straightforwardly improvise one from at-hand materials, as
opposed to someone who knows just one trick, such as how to make a
ball joint to address most movement issues. When one is said to have
a good “musical vocabulary”, it is not meant that one knows lots of
Italian or German terms for tempo and dynamics, but that one has a
feel for musical devices of counterpoint, orchestration, motif,
style, and so on. In this sense, “vocabulary” is meant more
metaphorically, such as an artist’s “visual vocabulary”, or the
"language" of music or architecture,