Word Nerds, Start Your Engines

I’m not trying to steal anyone’s thunder here, Word Nerd Wednesday is not going to become a regular thing (like it is over at Annette’s) In fact, I was going to post this on Monday but I got distracted by all the praise I was getting over at my brother’s blog and so I felt the need to direct your attention to the most important stuff.

But now I need your help.  (In point of fact I don’t need the help of the word nerds but more specifically, that of the linguists, but “Linguists Start Your Engines” didn’t sound as good.)  I got the Infantile Delinquent a Leapfrog Word Whammer for Christmas.  It’s a pretty cool (and only somewhat annoying) toy and it’s already got him singing the alphabet which I think is great.  But I noticed something the other day and I just know that one of you can tell me what the story is.

The Word Whammer comes with magnets of all 26102_0794 letters and each letter is one of four different colors.  But I can’t figure out what the reasoning is behind which letters are which colors.  (There’s a reason this is categorized under Feeding My OCD.)  As you can see from the picture it’s not a straight red, then blue, then yellow, then green pattern.  And I did catch that all of the vowels, and only the vowels, are red but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a rhyme or reason to the other colors.  I’m thinking some kind of lingual v. glottal pronunciation thing.  Voiced v. non-voiced?  There has to be something, there just has to.

Why am I so sure?  You ask.

Because this is not the only Leapfrog product that we own.  About five years ago we bought the Princess a Leapfrog Desktop thingy (I believe that was the official name of the toy) and it also has magnetic letters.  In the intervening years we’ve lost some of the letters but we still have some of them.  Here’s a picture. 102_07951Notice anything?  Like the fact that the letters that are there are the same colors as the letters on my fridge.

So if nothing else the coloration is standard throughout Leapfrog products but WHY?

Help me out here, this is driving me crazy.

Also, why did they chose to go with the font with the little upwards thingy on the L?  And why don’t the ends of the C turn inward like they should?


PS.  I wanted to throw in a disclaimer about how I only noticed the coloration because at one point the Word Whammer told my son to find the M and that the M was green and that got me thinking, but I’ve got to be honest with you, I noticed the lack of pattern in the coloration five years ago when we got the Desktop it was just that at the time I told myself that it was a fluke thing and all the letters were all different colors.

PPS Yes, I’m aware that I need to get out more.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LisAway
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 04:45:04

    I would say that L is for Lame, as all the other letters are completely plain and straight.

    Also, I think what you need is neither a word nerd nor a linguist. You need a mathematician. My BL’s a very clever one (he’s big at the NSA) and I can have him analyze it, if you like. It sounds to me like you think the way he does.

  2. cheryl
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 07:41:30

    Make Annette answer this question. I seriously have no idea why they would pick those colors (primary colors?) other than the fact that they needed to pick colors.

    P.S. Your brother’s tribute to you was fabulous. 🙂

  3. Annette
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 07:51:49

    Thanks for the mention! 😀

    I’m no linguist, but I can’t see any correlation between glottal/bilabial/any other word forming method or voiced/unvoiced or anything else. Looks totally random to me. I’m guessing they found a collection that’s somehow visually appealing and/or easy to find letters on–probably by testing a bunch of kids with various arrangements–and then kept the one that tested best.

    Sort of how watch makers figured out that people respond best to a timepiece that reads 10:10, because the hands somehow look nicest there. (That’s the time EVERY watch will read on every ad–look for it sometime.)

    Word nerds unite! 😀

  4. bythelbs
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 08:28:46

    I’m still focused on that fact that the other toy is missing all of those letters. Thanks a lot!

  5. Kristina
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 08:50:46

    Maybe they don’t mean anything? I’m not really sure. Oh, and I decided yesterday that we’re doing a word of the day at our office. For certain people that work there. Who I might do posts about.

  6. the letter Bee
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 09:09:06

    I’m not good at puzzles. I still can’t figure out why Leonardo diCaprio thinks he should grow facial hair.

  7. Melanie
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 09:41:46

    Thanks a lot! I have never even noticed that they were different colors untill now, so now I will be looking and thinking about that while I should be cleaning and parenting. You stink, and not just because you are my sister. love The Social Maven (It has a good ring to it I think, should I just have everyone call me that from now on?)

  8. Jami
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 10:14:57

    Ok this is the best I can come up with. They made all the vowels red for a particular game. And they wanted old games to mesh into the new system which is why they stuck with the same random colors on the new system as they had with the old.

  9. Catherine
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 10:23:16

    I’m going with Jami. They set the colors once and made it standard for all future toys. At last, a company smart enough NOT to reinvent the wheel!

  10. s'mee
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 10:36:44

    Oy. Stuff like this gets me every time! I am not qualified to expound on the why they did it, but it still drives me crazy. Things like all the primary colours…and green. Why not go all the way and add the other secondary colours? It also drives me nuts that the block letters are hooked or not, whatever…inconsistent.

    But then again my first gripe is that there are 26 letters and not 25. They never align correctly in my head. Someone powerful needs to get rid of one letter in the alphabet to make me happier and at peace. I know that may not make sense to the rest of you, but I want either total control or total mayhem.

    Carry on.

  11. Jami
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 13:09:54

    I can never remember if there are 24 or 26 letters in the alphabet. Throws me everytime.

  12. The Boob Nazi
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 13:16:41

    Nope. No correlation. Not with manner, placing, or voiced/voiceless. And they’re not even in a pattern. What is this? It did have a pattern at the beginning, but not anymore. This is crazy!

  13. bythelbs
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 14:12:26

    S’mee, I’ve often been annoyed that the letters of the alphabet cannot be aligned in neat little rows. And two rows of 13 totally doesn’t count.

    And why does the “L” have a hook on it? LeapFrog is just smokin’ it.

  14. annie valentine
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 16:28:31

    I think they do this to make sure that kids who are OCD don’t spend all their time color grouping the letters instead of memorizing them.

  15. Melanie J
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 16:44:31

    I think you should return to having conversations with Cheerios. It’s a more productive form of your OCD.

  16. Jessica A.
    Jan 08, 2009 @ 10:35:04

    Ok, so I’ve made a little chart (think I’m ocd much too? lol) And here’s what I’ve come up with…if you take them in groups of four they line up like the following:

    B, Y, G, B
    G, Y, B, G
    Y, G, B, Y
    B, Y, G, B
    G, B, Y, G

    If you look down the rows it goes B, G, Y, B, G, Y and each set of four begins & ends with the same color. And the only set that doesn’t seem to make sense is the 5th set which is G, B, Y, G instead of G, Y, B, G. And now this is going to drive me crazy! 😛

  17. Lara
    Jan 11, 2009 @ 15:35:24

    I must admit that when we got the fridge set I noticed the vowels were red and tried to figure out why each consonant was the color it was. I failed miserably and haven’t thought about it anymore, but you’ve brought back the anxious feelings. 🙂

  18. zstitches
    Jan 11, 2009 @ 23:43:21

    I think they’re just cheap — once they’d set up the machines to make the letters a certain color, they stuck with it.

  19. Loreta Betzel
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 02:30:57

    Uncovered your internet site via yahoo the other day and absolutely liked it so much. Carry on the great work.

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