Definitions

jargon

jargon

[jahr-guhn, -gon]
jargon, pejorative term applied to speech or writing that is considered meaningless, unintelligible, or ugly. In one sense the term is applied to the special language of a profession, which may be unnecessarily complicated, e.g., "medical jargon." Jargon can also mean clumsy language that is hard to understand, synonymous with gibberish or gobbledygook, or a mixture of languages that serves different people (see lingua franca).
For Wikipedia jargon, see . For hacker slang, see Jargon File. For the gemstone, see Jargoon.
Jargon is terminology that relates to a specific activity, profession or group. Much like slang it develops as a kind of shorthand, to quickly express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group. In many cases a standard term may be given a more precise or specialized usage among practitioners of a field. In many cases this may cause a barrier to communication as many may not understand. In general, jargon is distinguished from argot.

Uses of jargon

Jargon is used in several fields, among which some are:

  • Sports: One can find Jargon just by watching a sports broadcast, where commentators will often use jargon specific to the game which may hold little or no meaning to those not familiar with the sport. These often refer to formations (i.e. the "nickel" defensive football formation), moves (such as "juking" or "deking"), or penalties (such as "spiking", "icing" or "slashing")
  • Religion: Jargon is widely used to refer to concepts within the belief systems of organized religion.
  • Medicine: Particularly in the operating room or under emergency conditions, particular jargons have developed that allow medical professionals to communicate quickly and effectively where common language would take much longer. In the medical field it largely involves the Latin (or Latinized) terms for common words and phrases and also serves a euphemistic purpose as the term, being unknown to the patient, is less forceful than words the patient would understand.
  • Critical Theory: Each branch of critical theory tends to develop its own highly-formalized terminology, more commonly called a critical vocabulary.
  • Information Technology and the Internet: Computer and programming jargons used by computer scientists, programmers, system architects, enthusiasts and hackers to communicate. (See the Jargon File.) The proper usage of these words is a sometimes considered prerequisite for inclusion in these groups (leetspeak).
  • Nautical Terms, an example of an ancient form of jargon.
  • Politics: Jargon is used by ministers and commentators to refer to political strategies and tactics.

Pitfalls of jargon

In some cases jargon is used as a shibboleth to distinguish those who belong to a group from those who do not. This is sometimes called "guild" or "insider" jargon. Those unfamiliar with a subject can often be tagged by their incorrect use of jargon. The use of jargon by outsiders is considered by insiders to be audacious, since it constitutes a claim to membership of the insider group. Conversely, since outsiders may not see the reference made via jargon, they are all the more sensitive to its more visible elitist social framing. Jargon may be perceived as pedantic, nerdy, and divorced from meaning to outsiders.

See also

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