Springing the language traps


On my weekly Sunday morning walk, I thought about language, jargon, and conceptual “containers” we use to wrap up seemingly complex ideas into bite-size bits.

We all have a lot going on, these days, so being able to encapsulate complex ideas into more compact form, can be a time-saver. Provided, of course, everyone has the same understanding of what’s inside the “jar” of the jargon.

In technology, business, science, philosophy, metaphysics, and just about every professional field, there’s an abundance of jargon and discipline-specific terminology that serves several purposes:

  1. To determine who belongs in the group, based on their apparent command and use of the jargon.
  2. To determine who doesn’t belong, based on the glazed-over look in their eyes when jargon gets liberally applied to conversations.

For the record,  I’m not a fan of jargon. It sounds contrived — which it is — and it always makes me wonder if the person saying those things actually understands what they’re saying, or if they’re just putting on a show.

At first, mastering the terminology may make you feel like you know what’s going on, and you’re part of the in crowd. But if used long enough, it can encourage lazy thinking. Rather than discussing the actual contents of that conceptual container and making sure the other person understands you and can do something with the ideas you’re trying to convey, you’re basically tossing that container at someone, expecting them to catch it and do something meaningful with it.

Or, you can dispense with the fancy speak, just sort out your thoughts and give the other person something to work with.

But what does it *mean*?

Of course, if you take that more considered route in certain company, you run the risk of having them think you don’t have mastery of the jargon, so therefore you are not one of them… and how did you get in here again?



About Kay Stoner

Inventor, coder, ux designer. Writer and independent publisher.
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