Similar to many areas of life, in construction, words can have many meanings.
Perhaps a great example of this is the word “square”.
A square can refer to many things.
As with areas outside of construction, a square can mean the geometrical shape in which all four sides of this box-like figure are equal in length.
A square can also be referencing a type of tool that carpenters use to execute measurements throughout the course of any given project.
The one meaning of ‘square’ which over the years I have gotten a kick out of when I have heard contractors use it, is the meaning in which the term square is referring to 100 square feet.
I have often giggled in my head when I hear the random contractor yell out, “Hey Johnny, we need 5 square of those shingles on-site first thing in the morning!”
‘Square’ or ‘Squares’ can both be plural – equally delightful!!
The term ‘square’ seems to sometimes be used almost as an unintentional piece of code language to test the understanding of construction language of those around whomever may be barking out the term.
‘Square’ is one of those descriptors that is proudly said, almost as a badge of honor.
This interesting word which those in the society of construction trades truly understand and anyone within earshot who may happen to hear it being spoken and comprehends what the person using the word is saying, can even earn the non-construction-oriented observant some type of instant street cred within the construction brotherhood.
A ’square’ can be any type of measurement of 100 square feet.
This could mean wood or vinyl siding, roofing, any type of decking, etc.
Sometimes I hear the term being used by contractors in a manner in which I wonder if the contractor is using the term in conversation to help galvanize their trade-specific knowledge base in the eyes of whomever it is they are speaking with.
Not that simply knowing how to correctly use the word in a conversation is the be-all and end-all in terms of one’s knowledge of their trade, but simply sprinkling it in a sentence here or there may indeed be a confidence builder for the tradesperson who is using it.
The ironic component of this strategy, of course, is that just as in any other occupation, using non-layman terms can be ultimately confusing for whomever it is that you are speaking with and may actually shade one’s view toward the negative on your end vs. the positive (of which its use may have been intended to do).
A parallel example may be with a doctor who spits out crazy medical terms, even if purely subconsciously, working to impress their patient that they know their stuff, when in reality my guess is that a good portion of their patients could care less about the technical mumbo jumbo and really want to know if they are going to be ok and if they are sick to whatever degree, what the next steps should be moving forward explained to them in the simplest way possible.
Construction is no different.
While it certainly is important to know the terminology of whatever industry you are in, knowing when to use certain words or phrasing and when not to use them in the most effective way possible, could be just as valuable as knowing the industry-specific jargon in the first place, no matter how cool sounding the specific language may be to hear coming out of your own mouth.
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