JargonBy Paula Caudle,Kim Courtney, Heather Guyton, Michelle Keller and Carol Kind Students, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Introduction of Jargon
Generally speaking, jargon, in its most positive light, can be seen as professional, efficient shorthand. The word "jargon" can be traced to 14th century Old French, but the actual origin is unknown. “Jargon” is derived from the fourteenth century term for “twittering or warbling of birds,” which in turn has the root ‘garg’ from which also stem such words as “gargle,” and “gurgle.” The original meaning was “to make a twittering noise or sound,”but by modern standards, it has three derivations. One current or modern definition of jargon is “an outlandish, technical language of a particular profession, group, or trade.” Another meaning is “unintelligible writing or talk.” Yet another definition is “specific dialects resulting from a mixture of several languages.” Since the reoccurring problem with jargon is that only a few people may understand the actual terminology used by different groups, this may explain its origin from “twittering” which, of course, would be misunderstood by most people. However, a jargonaut, one who studies jargon, may claim that jargon was invented simply as a professional shorthand, developed out of convenience rather than intentional trickiness.
Jargon vs. Slang
Examples of Slang and Jargon:
“Say, how much does that cost?”
Jargon, on the other hand, is “technical talk.” As stated earlier, it may be used as a barrier to keep outsiders from understanding something, but not always. An example of how close slang and jargon are may be seen in the use of the following medical terms:
Bilateral probital hematoma (JARGON)
Who Uses Jargon?
An example of jargon in the medical profession:
Some medical slang can be misinterpreted as jargon:
Examples of computer/lnternet jargon:
Commonly we may use jargon terms from NASA such as: "countdown,"
"all systems go" and "lift off." Jargon can be used by anyone, but
for someone to understand what you talking about, they must also know the
What is Plain English?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Jargon
Jargon is here, and it is not going anywhere. According to Peter Ives, “For those who use it, it is a language which describes the world in which we live.” The occupations of today almost demand their own jargon. Jargon is an aspect of everyone’s life in some way be it a job, a hobby, or a sport. Jargon is a way for groups in society to have their own specific language. There are advantages and disadvantages for using jargon. People usually tend to focus on the disadvantages. Using jargon can be fun, and it can be an advantageous. For instance, Jargon can give a person a sense of belonging to a specific group. Today’s society loves to show off and using jargon is a way for people to do this. Jargon can also make it easier for a person to communicate with their fellow employees and/or their friends. For example, someone going for a job interview at a bank or financial institution, would use banking terminology, thus banking jargon to show their expertise in the field.
Using jargon can also be a disadvantage. Jargon can leave someone feeling
excluded from a conversation. The military, advertising, teachers, and
politicians have all been criticized for using jargon. Using jargon in
these four areas leaves people wondering if they have a hidden agenda.
Jargon can be a good thing as long as it is not abused. It is easy to just
slip into a jargon of your own making it difficult for other people to
understand what is being said. According to Peter Ives, “After all, jargon
is only jargon for those who don’t use it.”
According to Alfred Fleishman, doublespeak is a form of jargon often used to mislead or confuse listeners. There are two main variations in doublespeak that relate to jargon: persuasive and inflated doublespeak. Both of these types of doublespeak misdirect intentionally, therefore leading to misconception.
Some examples of persuasive and inflated doublespeak are seen often
in many workfields. For example, a politician
speaking to the voting public may use persuasive doublespeak in his campaign
in an attempt to mislead the elderly about Social Security issues.
Inflated doublespeak on the other hand, is quite different and the
most widely used form of doublespeak. An example of inflated doublespeak
would be calling a garbage collector a sanitation engineer. The changed
name created an entirely different image of
the garbage collector by using inflated doublespeak. When comparing persuasive
doublespeak to inflated doublespeak, one can clearly see that both types
are altogether a big misconception of jargon usage.
Doublespeak is used daily in various professions and often destroys the
real intent of jargon usage. Doublespeak may lead to utter confusion,
which is the opposite intent of effective jargon usage.
BibliographyCrystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The English Language. Cambridge University Press. 1996.
This book is timely and evidentally a well researched book. The format is a little hard to follow at times though. It contains several examples of occupational jargons.
Dickinson, Paul. Slang: The Topic-By-Topic Dictionary of Contemporary American Lingoes. Pocket Books: New York, NY. 1990.
Fleishman, Alfred. "Doublespeak," St. Louis Business Journal 19 (May 1999): 28.
Green, Jonathan. The Dictionary of Jargon. Routledge & Kegan paul, Inc.:New York, NY. 1987.
Ives, Peter. "In Defense of Jargon."1999. http://eng.hss.cmu.edu/bs/31/ives.html.
Jargon Exercise (Group Work)
1- Alfalfa, Butcher, Cats, Horse, Possom Belly
2- Bibles, Heralds, Jonah's Luck, Lot, Sky Boards
4- Layout Man, Main Guy, Spec Girl, 24hr Man, Web Girl