23 Sep 2011

Allergic to jargon?



Do you remember the guy on blind date who told Cilla he was a vision technician? Cilla was perplexed until he revealed that was a fancy way of saying he was a window cleaner.

The Oxford English dictionary provides the definition of jargon as:
special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand
Extensive use of jargon drives me crazy. I find that those who use a lot of unfamiliar or vague words to explain a concept often have no idea what they are talking about or are trying to elevate their own position. The person listening to them is often lost after the first few sentences but is too embarrassed to ask “What does that mean?”

I’ve been attending lots of fantastic events this week and the topic of jargon keeps cropping up, usually followed by the rolling of eyes. One girl told me her jargon allergy developed every time she heard the word “transmedia”. Other favourites amongst the group were “guru” , “buzz” and the overuse of the E word, “engagement”.

Personally the word that irks me the most is "transparency". I trip over this word on a regular basis because it’s everywhere; an example being “Businesses using social media should be transparent in their message to customers.” I think the majority of business people are honest and smart enough to know that misleading customers is damaging to any business and pointing this out is a tad insulting. If businesses haven’t figured that out then they will soon enough whether that involves social media or not. Let’s not insult people’s intelligence or alienate them with jargon and go for straight talking instead.

If I remember correctly the window cleaner still got the girl in the end.

*Image courtesy of ukgameshows.com

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