by Tash Hughes of
you ever picked up a scientific or medical journal and
tried to read it? Unless you are qualified in those
fields, you probably got lost near the start of the
first article you read.
asked “How are you?” in a language you don’t know, you
wouldn’t know what I was asking.
cases, it is not so much that you couldn’t understand
the topic but that you didn’t understand the language.
In the case of the journals, they may be written in
English but they use so much jargon that it may as well
be in a foreign language for most people.
what is jargon exactly?
the words used in a particular context that are
meaningful to people experiencing that context. For
instance, in the IT field, people will talk about bytes,
LANs, binary and Ethernet – all of these words are
can be helpful or cause problems.
jargon is not a bad thing as it can make communicating
with others in the field quicker and easier; compare
saying ‘10 bytes’ to ‘ten strings of eight ones or zeros
used to describe data’.
when used outside of the relevant field, jargon can be
confusing and hinders understanding. It can even be used
to make the outside person feel inferior because they
don’t understand the jargon.
does this affect my writing?
communications, jargon must be avoided if the audience
may not know it.
If you are
writing a technical document that will only be read by
your colleagues in the same field, then use jargon in
the communication as it will be quicker.
if you are writing for a general audience, or you are
not sure of their technical knowledge, it is best to use
as little jargon as possible – and define any jargon you
have written something, go back through it and check for
any words you consider to be jargon and determine if
there is another word you could use instead.
be sure what is jargon?
people grow so used to their industry language or jargon
that they may not realize it is jargon when they prepare
a number of techniques to reduce the amount of jargon
you may unconsciously add to your writing:
someone else to read it and point out any words they
don’t understand. Obviously, don’t ask your
colleague who uses the same jargon as you
up any words you suspect may be jargon in a standard
dictionary. If it isn’t in there, you can assume it
about how to talk to your friends at a social event
– if you wouldn’t you use those words, they may well
your work on another computer – if spell check grabs
a correctly spelt word, it may be because it is
uncommon enough to not be in the dictionary so may
be jargon. Don’t’ use your own computer for this as
you have probably added your jargon to your custom
Tash Hughes is
the owner of
Word Constructions and is available to solve all
your business writing problems! From letters to
policies, newsletters to web content, Word Constructions
writes all business documents to your style and