Jargon

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For the glossary of hacker slang, see Jargon File.

Jargon is a type of terminology which is used in conjunction with a specific activity, e.g. medical jargon, legal jargon, and other proffessions as well as specific fields.

The social purposes of jargon are threefold: communication, inclusion and exclusion. The first goal of any jargon is to facilitate communicating information, often by the invention of shorthand terms or the use of technical terms that may be obscure to most people but useful to people who use them on a daily basis. However, while jargon may be born in and mainly refer to a specific activity or profession, activities which have jargon often also are to a certain extent a subculture and thus a jargon can also be a type of slang. Therefore, it serves as a means of inclusion and exclusion : someone who speaks a group's jargon is identified as a fellow member, while someone who does not understand the same jargon is marked as an outsider.

Jargon is used for instance in sports, where technical sportsman terms but also sport-related metaphors for other events in life are used by sports fans for the aforementioned purposes. For obvious reasons, jargon is used a lot in technical professions; see Technical terminology. The rise of information technology and the Internet created many overlapping jargons used by nerds, geeks and hackers to communicate, the very proper usage of these words being a major prerequisite for inclusion in these groups. See Jargon file.

Often, beginning writers and speakers in uncertain social roles make the mistake of using specialized jargon inappropriately. When the jargon is used incorrectly, this is often known as a Malapropism. The term comes from the name of a character in a play--The Rivals--by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. However, Mrs. Malaprop did not restrict herself to misusing technical or scientific words.

Another error may be the description of any complex word as "jargon", where the speaker or writer's idea or feeling is the target. The clearest statement of this type of error is found in The Jargon of Authenticity by Theodore Wiesengrund Adorno, where the author identifies a certain type of "authentic" language, said to be free of complex jargon, as itself a jargoning and used against certain types of feelings associated with "high" culture in favor of a "people's" culture.

Adorno himself was accused by Bertolt Brecht and Frankfurt students of inauthenticity in that Adorno used words from high culture to describe his own attitudes, and for this reason, The Jargon of Authenticity was a bit of a *cri de coeur* despite its lofty tone, somewhat in the manner of Dr.Zhivago's father in Pasternak's novel, who, upon being thrown out of his *dacha*, cries "I'm one of the people too!".

To describe an idea as jargon accomplishes in Bourdieu's terms several tasks. It maintain's the speaker's "distinction" and social role as critic and judge, while at time excusing the speaker from listening or reading with attention, and it also expresses a safe, egalitarian attitude.

Indeed, these meta-attitudes and this more sophisticated use of the concept of jargon is today possibly more frequent than guild-like insider jargon. As it happens, today's professional organizations have legal structures of access which enable their members to override differences in "jargon" in such a manner that doctors, and to an extent lawyers, can understand each other across national and cultural boundaries. In technical efforts across those borders, terms of art and jargon are readily resolved as part of daily life in informative conversation.

In daily affairs, one indication that the use of "jargon" as an accusation of intellectual insider trading may be in some bad faith is the fact that people feel, when subject to a barrage of terms of art in literary criticism, where the author makes an effort to define each such term of art, that the author is still guilty of using jargon. The late Jacques Derrida, and his adepts, were accused of inappropriately using a specialized jargon despite the fact that much of their work is a prolix attempt to define "deconstruction" and other such terms of art while doing justice to the necessity of self-application, and not standing outside the phenomenon of the text, in more bad faith.

The accepted feeling, as reflected in journalistic accounts which in turn reflect settled educated opinion about these matters (an opinion not without its problems), is that the matters of which the author, such as the literary critic, speak, can be spoken of without terms of art or "jargon". The problem then becomes the repetition of definitions which in replacing catch-phrases only expand the text, leading to further weariness with mere prolixity, which itself is misidentified often as jargon.

Indeed, there are contexts, especially electronic mail, where the use of deliberate and not-so-deliberate errors in style, grammar and spelling is so fashionable that mere grammatical writing and spelling can itself be the target of an accusation of "jargon".

The jargon of authenticity, and the readiness to accuse the writer or speaker of jargoning, is far more common than first-order jargon today, as is the fear of guild formation and the fear of nonmonetary "insider trading" when members of a profession or para-profession collaborate, and generally, today, economic demands for results prevent this from occuring. Instead, a looser and demotic "terminology" takes hold in contexts where the midlevel fear of giving offense to powerful but aliterate outsiders (such as CEOs and politicians) overrides anything like professional solidarity or precision in speech.

The jargon of "jargoning" itself evolved from a pleasant association about the time of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who referred in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to the "sweet" jargoning of birds to today's usage, which is "unpleasant sounds I don't understand". This is a shift in attitude about language and mystery in which the listener and the reader demands clarity at all costs and today is unimpressed by fancy words. Coleridge was writing about unmapped regions of the globe, and unexplored regions of experience, but today, an all-pervading sense of surveillance, both directed at the common reader, and also under his power as on the Internet, makes us, perhaps, feel that any mysteries are being deliberately manufactured by "jargon".

External link

Look up [[wiktionary:{{{1|Special:Search/Jargon}}}|{{{1|Jargon}}}]] in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

See also Jargon compliance, lingo, pidgin, Wiktionary: Jargon, slang and for examples:



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