linguist • writer • editor • lecturer • broadcaster
[Thursday 03 January, 2013]
CUSTOMER: What’s wrong with my robot?
SALESMAN: I’m afraid the link sprocket in the anterior upper arm assembly is no longer interconnecting horizontally with the rotating posterior mechanism.
SALESMAN: His arm’s broken.
I expect you had a problem too. The salesman knows what he’s talking about - but the rest of us don’t, because we don’t understand all his technical words, or jargon.
Every specialised subject has got its own jargon. Chemistry, maths, geography . . . This book is all about the jargon of English language study. Each sport has its jargon, too. If you don’t know anything about cricket, for instance, words like googly and third man will be just as unintelligible as link sprocket and posterior mechanism. When a group of specialists are talking together, they use jargon quite naturally, because it helps them to be precise. What’s bad is when they use jargon to people who don’t know what it means. Can you think of people who might use jargon in this way? Doctors sometimes do. And garage mechanics. And lawyers. Any others?
Cartoon 59
Related notions: style, usage, vocabulary

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