Jargon is the vocabulary particular to a certain profession, trade or group. Amongst the peers of a specific group, it carries great meaning that simplifies and expedites communication. For outsiders, it is meaningless. Almost every profession and trade has its own jargon, from education to electrical engineering to medicine to publishing. Even grammarians have jargon: preposition, predicate, nominative, compound complex, superlative, indirect object . . .
The good thing about jargon is that within a relevant context, it aids exchange of information.
The bad thing about jargon is that some people choose to use it outside of its relevant context. They speak to laypeople in language that only a colleague could interpret. Some people do this because they are unable to translate the jargon into layman's terms. Some people do this because it increases their self-perceived importance. Some people do this because they don't realize that the vocabulary they are using is trade specific. The reasons for misuse of jargon, however, are not as important as the outcome: communication breakdown.
1) Avoid using jargon unless the target audience of what you are writing includes only readers in the field that uses that vocabulary.
For example, the following sentence is meant only for techies: This option makes the list command show the interface name, the rule options, and the TOS masks. The packet and byte counters are also listed, with the suffix 'K', 'M' or 'G' for 1000, 1,000,000 and 1,000,000,000 multipliers respectively. (http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/linux-iptables-examples.html)
2) If the use of jargon is unavoidable, provide an explanation of the term or provide significant context clues to the meaning of the term.
One of the determinants for passing 5th grade is the CRCT. The Criterion Referenced Cumulative Test is a standardized test that measures a student's retention of and ability to apply math and language arts skills. Other performance standards, such as classroom grades, teacher recommendations, and periodic benchmark tests are also used for making promotion decisions.
Can you give an example of jargon used in your profession?
Tomorrow: Killing it: A bit about word usage.
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