Good Jargon vs. Bad Jargon

Giving a SpeechWe all talk about jargon, but what do we mean by jargon?

 Let’s begin with the Encarta World English Dictionary definition:

Jargon n: 1. Language that is used by a particular group, profession, or culture, especially when the words and phrases are not understood or used by other people. 2. Pretentious or meaningless language (disapproving).

 It’s jargon if, according to the first dictionary definition, it’s “the language used by a particular group, profession, culture, especially when the words and phrases are not understood or used by other people.” This is the “good jargon” – the insider language that cuts to the chase, and provides exact, specific meaning to other insiders so they understand clearly exactly what you’re talking about. The key here is that your readers are insiders. They are people who speak the language of this specific discipline, and understand the terms you are using in the same way you are using them.

The second dictionary definition (“Pretentious or meaningless language [disapproving]”) is how most of us think of, and have come to use the term.  This is the “bad jargon,” and is characterized by (a) taking twice as many words as you need to say it clearly to your specific reader (again, the reader, and the “language” he or she understands, is the key); (b) perhaps – although not usually to anyone except the writer – sounding impressive, but not making sense to your reader (writing to impress, rather than to express“); and  (c) using certain words or phrases that have been used and used and used….

 So here are four easy ways to fix, or avoid altogether “second definition” jargon issues:

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING

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Published in: on February 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

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