Jargon as verbal shorthandFor those who understand it, jargon is a kind of SHORTHAND that makes long explanations unnecessary. When used by the members of a profession or group, it can be an efficient and effective language. For physicians, the surgical removal of a gall bladder is a chole-cystectomy. For lawyers, an involuntary conversion is loss or destruction of property through theft, accident, or condemnation. Studies of surgeons have found that the jargon used during surgery improves the communication of factual information with brevity and clarity. Comparably, computer science has evolved a jargon which communicates technical ideas among members of the group, including such expressions as dynamic random access memory, read only memory, core dump, and cache buffer.
Jargon as group identificationAbility to understand and use the jargon of a group is a badge of identification: one belongs, and those who cannot use the jargon of the group do not, even if they possess other skills necessary for membership. In a sense, the ability to use the jargon indicates that the user is conforming to the norms of the group, as well as accepting and understanding the basic ideas, principles, and practices of the group. In addition, using jargon can lend an air of authority and prestige to those who use it, especially if the jargon is associated with a profession that enjoys a high social position.
The temptations of jargonWhile jargon has a legitimate function, it is probably more known for its ABUSE by people who use it to confuse, confound, needlessly complicate subject matter, and lend an air of importance and sophistication to their message and themselves. Jargon allows a speaker to make fairly simple ideas appear complicated, if not profound. It may sound more impressive to write that ‘The argillaceous character of the formation is very prominent in some localities, although it is usually subsidiary to the arenaceous phase’, rather than ‘At some places the formation includes considerable clay, but generally it is made up chiefly of sand.’ By and large, when people use jargon not to communicate but to impress, or use it to announce membership in a group, communication suffers.
See ACADEMIC USAGE, ARGOT, AUREATE DICTION, BAFFLEGAB, BUREAUCRATESE, CANT, CIRCUMLOCUTION, COMPUTERESE, CONFUSAGE, DOUBLESPEAK, DOUBLE TALK, EUPHEMISM, GOBBLEDYGOOK, INFLATED LANGUAGE, INKHORN TERM, JOURNALESE, LEGALESE, LEGAL USAGE, OFFICIALESE, PATOIS, PERIPHRASIS, PLAIN ENGLISH, PLEONASM, PRIVATE LANGUAGE, PSYCHOBABBLE, REDUNDANCY, SOCIOLOGESE, -SPEAK, TAUTOLOGY, TECHNOBABBLE, TRADE JARGON.
jar·gon1 / ˈjärgən/ • n. special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand: legal jargon. ∎ a form of language regarded as barbarous, debased, or hybrid. DERIVATIVES: jar·gon·is·tic / ˌjärgəˈnistik/ adj.jar·gon·ize / -ˌnīz/ v.jar·gon2 / ˈjärgän/ (also jar·goon / järˈgoōn/ ) • n. a translucent, colorless, or smoky gem variety of zircon.