Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Dainik Jargon

Jargon, is something you probably encounter every day. Jargon, the Oxford Dictionary tells us, is "special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand…" Therefore the use of jargon serves multiple purposes to a user:

-      The user of said jargon can aptly show that (s)he is an integral part of a select group, and is extremely knowledgeable of the norms and expressions to be used by the group, regardless of whether he understands the meaning of what it is (s)he has actually said

-      The listener of said jargon has no option but to nod in agreement at the use of the said jargon. This is because either:

o   The listener fully understands the expressions of the said group and is an equally integral part of the select group

OR

o   The listener has no idea what the jargon means, but if the listener were to ask for further clarification, (s)he would appear ignorant, maybe even stupid, and definitely an outsider to the said group, and no one, but NO ONE, wants to be an outsider to a group.

Thus, the use of jargon automatically ensures you don't have to answer questions. And answering questions is a bloody pain. The other beauty of using jargon is that you come across as especially intelligent, by using terms and expressions which only a select few know. However, wrong usage of jargon can be equally ruinous, since you would come across as ignorant, maybe even stupid, and definitely an outsider to the said group, and no one, but… OK you know where I am going with this, right?

Most people tend to confuse jargon with the other corporate favorite -Bullshit. This association is however an incorrect and unfair one, and is mostly charged on jargon users by those who do not understand the jargon, and are therefore made to feel outsiders to the group. There is a major fundamental difference.

Use of jargon automatically assumes that the listener understands the core argument being made by the speaker, and the understanding of the subject, and the said jargon matters to the person using the jargon. Harry G. Frankfurt, in his book "On Bullshit", terms Bullshit, is that what is spewed when the speaker really does not care whether the listener understands the entire argument. You could even say that willful use of incorrect jargon is the definition of bullshit. Oxford Dictionary though terms bullshit as "talk nonsense to (someone) in an attempt to deceive them". Close enough I say.

To illustrate further, here's a simple example.

You might think on reading this article, that I am using quotes from the OED, and Harry G. Frankfurt, a noted philosopher. That makes me somewhat intellectual and smart and basically using philosophical jargon.

I, for one, think all that is written above is plain bullshit…

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