LL Notes from the Editor eNL - Oct 19th, 2022
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October 19, 2022
Words Matter

I’ve said before I’m not a locksmith. I’m a writer who writes for locksmiths, and on my good days, I fancy myself a wordsmith.

Words matter in my profession.

Recently, I discovered that words matter to locksmiths, too — a specific group of locksmiths.

The Lock Industry Standards & Training (LIST) Council, which consists of a dozen or so locksmiths, has been around for 40 years, mostly in the shadows of the industry. John Hubel of Keejon Keys in Utica, Michigan, says that’s changing as the group seeks more industry involvement.

“Our role is just education and getting everybody on the same page, using a common language for locksmiths,” says Hubel, who calls himself “the ambassador” of the LIST Council.

The LIST Council compiles “The Professional Locksmith Dictionary.” If you’ve taken certification testing through ALOA’s Proficiency Registration Program (PRP) or work in Oregon, you’re familiar with that publication. PRP testing relies on knowing and using terms in “The Professional Locksmith Dictionary.”

The LIST Council’s mission is to identify and define terms that a locksmith will encounter during their work, Hubel says, with an eye on providing clarity for the entire industry.

“Our objective is to get the manufacturers to use the exact terms they are supposed to use in all of their literature, instruction and manufacturing,” he says. “As a result, all the distributors and the sales end of it know what we’re talking about when we’re asking for very specific things. Then, the locksmith should know how to portray things to the public and make sure that we’re ordering what we’re supposed to be ordering.”

Hubel provides an example of how not being on the same page in that regard can cause problems.

“Somebody [recently] proposed the term, ‘internal relocker,’” he says. “It’s used in the safe industry. It’s if you bust the back cover off [a safe lock], it triggers so you can’t open the lock. However, somebody else was teaching a class, and they were using a different term.” As a result, during a PRP test, you might get a question about internal relocking wrong, because you didn’t identify the correct term. “Our job is to correct that.”

The LIST Council has a process for doing just that, although Hubel notes it doesn’t rise to the formality of Webster.

When a new term is brought to its attention, the LIST Council researches its use, defines it in the fewest possible words and then debates the definition. When the group agrees, the term goes out for peer review through “accessible” places, such as ALOA, Clearstar and the Locksmith Nation Facebook group. If there’s a significant modification, the process starts over. As soon as everyone agrees and there’s no further comment, the term goes into the dictionary.

“There’s never a final copy,” Hubel says. “It’s always ‘the latest copy.’”

And because of the dictionary’s nature as a “living document,” there’s no set time for how long the process takes. Hubel notes that 10 new terms have been sent out to peer review, and the LIST Council has another two dozen or so in various stages of the process.

“We’re here for the long haul, and if it takes six months to do something, or if it takes six years to do something, we’re OK with that.” Hubel says. “If there’s more discussion to be had, we will have that discussion, because we want it to be a perfect document.”

And that’s something any wordsmith would appreciate.

For more information or to download a PDF of “The Professional Locksmith Dictionary,” go to www.listcouncil.org.

— Will Christensen


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