- The specialized language of a professional, occupational, or other group, often meaningless to outsiders. See also:
- An often negative term for odd language of various kinds, including slang or speech perceived as gibberish. Adjective: jargony. See also:
Etymology:From Old French, "the twittering of birds, meaningless talk"
Examples and Observations:
- "Jargon is the verbal sleight of hand that makes the old hat seem newly fashionable; it gives an air of novelty and specious profundity to ideas that, if stated directly, would seem superficial, stale, frivolous, or false."
- "'Hygienic treatment' is funeral jargon for the temporary preservation of a corpse."
(Jessica Mitford, The American Way of Death, 1963)
- Business Jargon
"Jargon is an invaluable tool in massaging meaning for marketing purposes. Investment is a particularly fertile field. Promoters may describe a start-up with no customers as 'pre-revenue,' optimistically implying that sales are inevitable. Hoped-for turnover will be projected in a 'business plan,' a document used for raising finance and scrupulously ignored thenceforth.
"Terminology that deflects criticism while bestowing spurious professionalism is essential to the manager. Hence the phrase 'I'm outside the loop on that' excuses knuckle-dragging cluelessness. 'I'm afraid I don't have the bandwidth' is a polite way of saying: 'You aren't important enough for me to help you.' And 'It is my understanding that . . .' allows the speaker to assert vague suspicions as solid facts. . . .
"Jargon is the epic poetry of modern business. It can turn a bunch of windbags in a meeting room into a 'quick wins taskforce.' I once asked a handyman toiling in an office doorway whether he was installing a wheelchair ramp. 'No,' he said solemnly, 'it's a diversity access feature.'"
(Jonathan Guthrie, "Three Cheers for the Epic Poetry of Jargon." Financial Times, Dec. 13, 2007)
- "Ours is the age of substitutes: instead of language, we have jargon; instead of principles, slogans; and, instead of genuine ideas, bright ideas."
- Is Jargon Necessary?
"Should jargon be censored? Many people think it should. However, close examination of jargon shows that, although some of it is vacuous pretentiousness, and therefore dysphemistic, its proper use is both necessary and unobjectionable."
(K. Allen and K. Burridge, Forbidden Words, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)
- "When per is used to mean 'for each,' 'by means,' 'through,' or 'on account of,' it is appropriate (per annum, per diem, per head). When used to mean 'according to' (per your request, per your order), the expression is jargon and should be avoided."
(Gerald J. Alred, et al., Handbook of Technical Writing, 8th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006)
- "Generally, when people use jargon not to communicate but to impress their audiences with their importance . . . or use it to announce membership in a group, communication suffers and the jargon can quickly degenerate into something close to the twittering of birds."
(W. Lutz, "Jargon." Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1992)
- Film Jargon
"I was instructed long ago by a wise editor, 'If you understand something you can explain it so that almost anyone can understand it. If you don't, you won't be able to understand your own explanation.' That is why 90% of academic film theory is bullshit. Jargon is the last refuge of the scoundrel."
(Roger Ebert, “O, Synecdoche, My Synecdoche!” Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 10, 2008)
- Diner Jargon
"Pigs in a blanket sixty-nine cents,
Eggs--roll 'em over and a package of Kents,
Adam and Eve on a log, you can sink 'em damn straight,
Hash browns, hash browns, you know I can't be late."
(Tom Waits, "Ghosts Of Saturday Night")