| John Spacey, February 11, 2016 updated on December 21, 2018
Jargon is language that is specific to a context such that it is not in broad usage. This can include distinct vocabulary, syntax and semantics. The following are illustrative examples of jargon.
ProfessionalLanguage that is specific to a profession. For example, project managers use the term full-time equivalent to measure the labor required by a project.
IndustryTerms used by an industry such as the use of rack rate in the travel industry to refer to the regular price of a room before discounts. It is typically understood that it is rare for anyone to actually pay the rack rate.
BusinessBusiness jargon are terms that are used across multiple industries and professions. For example, management buzzwords such as best practice.
TechnicalVocabulary that emerges around technologies including words to describe the design, operation, maintenance and use of technology. This is an extremely broad category of jargon as areas such as networking, operating systems, infrastructure, databases, software development, software architecture, artificial intelligence, robotics, user interface design and information security all have their own rich vocabularies that are familiar to many IT professionals. Beyond this, there is also jargon that is specific to proprietary technologies that can be extremely obscure.
AcronymsA common feature of jargon is the use of acronyms. This is often done to make communication more efficient, particularly for long phrases that are frequently used. However, it is common for people to find acronyms dull and irritating, even if they understand them. Acronyms are also an unnecessary form of jargon that make your communications less accessible without adding meaning to your message.
CodesIn some cases, jargon includes non-language elements such as numerical codes. For example, a police force may use numerical codes to identify situations and instructions to police.
OrganizationalFirms often develop their own language to describe things such as systems, applications, processes, procedures, products, services, locations and strategies. In some cases, a long term employee assumes that organizational terms are industry terms and therefore has difficulty communicating to peers in the same industry.
TeamsIt is possible for extended vocabularies to emerge within a single team that is unfamiliar to their organization or anyone else. For example, a software development team may develop a language to describe their APIs and systems. Learning this language becomes a means of gaining acceptance into the team as part of the team culture.
Words and language conventions that evolve around an art. For example, architecture has an extremely rich vocabulary to describe architectural elements and designs such as parti pris, the organizing idea behind an architectural design.Language is an element of culture that is also generated by culture at the level of society, traditional culture, subculture and super culture. For example, a music subculture may develop its own vocabulary to describe musical genres, styles and events.
SportsEach sport has its own vocabulary to describe everything from equipment to strategy. For example, sailing has hundreds of terms that are mostly unfamiliar to people with no sailing experience.
SlangSlang is language that is inventive and informal. This often starts within a subculture or profession. Slang can progress to become regular language with time.
MedicalMedicine is an extremely broad and complex domain that has its own language that is understood by researchers, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. This is often unfamiliar to patients who may require explanations in plain language.
LegaleseLegal documents and communications demand precision, consistency, completeness and soundness that require a unique vocabulary, syntax and semantics.
AcademicSciences and other academic fields typically have a distinct vocabulary that is used to capture both broad abstract concepts and fine details that are specific to a domain.
NomenclatureNomenclature is a system, style or set of rules for developing new language in a domain. In many cases, these are international standards or best practices that are widely observed. For example, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature is used for the scientific naming of animals.
ArgotArgot is the use of jargon to prevent outsiders from understanding conversations or documents. For example, a technology professional who uses obscure technical terms to make it more difficult for business units to challenge what they are saying.
Social InclusionKnowledge of jargon can symbolize social inclusion and belonging. For example, if you walk up to a bunch of sailors and can talk sailing you may instantly fit in.
Social ExclusionJargon can be used to exclude someone from a conversation to highlight their outside status. For example, an investment banker who uses jargon to highlight their superior position in a firm relative to another employee by using trading jargon the individual is unlikely to understand.Inside jokes are often based on jargon. This can be used both for social inclusion and exclusion to celebrate your connectedness or exclude someone from a conversation.Intelligence is a form of social status. In some cases, people will use obscure words to simulate intelligence in an attempt to boost their social status.
ShibbolethA shibboleth is an element of language that clearly marks you as an insider or outsider. For example, if you can't pronounce Tchoupitoulas Street then you may not be considered a local in New Orleans.
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