When I come across an unfamiliar word, I usually find it interesting and intriguing, and try to find out what it means and where it comes from. I also do this when I hear words being used in ways that are unfamiliar to me.
For example, the builder who is currently working on the new studio in my garden often shares building jargon with me. I find this interesting as I can see examples of what he means. The latest term was snots, which refers to drops of cement that fall off while it’s being applied to walls. [More details].
Sometimes, though, I find new words annoying, especially when a lot of them appear together. For example, I often receive emails from companies who are keen to advertise on Omniglot, who want to managing the ads on my site, or who want to redesign the site. These emails include lots of specialist vocabulary and abbreviations that I only partially understand. If I think they have something to offer that might benefit the site, I will try to decipher the jargon. Otherwise I don’t bother.
According to Dictionary.com, jargon [ˈdʒɑː.ɡən/ˈdʒɑɹ.ɡən] is:
- the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group: medical jargon.
- unintelligible or meaningless talk or writing; gibberish.
- any talk or writing that one does not understand.
- language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning.
It comes from the Middle English jargo(u)n (the sound of conversation, talking), from the Old French jargon (talk, chatter, conversation, talking), a variant of gargon/gargun (chatter, talk, language) [source].
When people mention things like header bidding, operational yield management, proprietary stacks, display inventory, RPMs and CPMs (all from one email), I tend to switch off. Perhaps it would be useful and lucrative for me to know about such things, but I’d rather not. I might also find myself becoming a little irritated with people who use such terms, and wondering why they can’t just use more transparent language.
How do you feel about jargon and other unfamiliar forms of language?