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Jargon is everywhere

Jargon is everywhere

The trite media training advice to avoid jargon needs a serious update to stop the proliferation of jargon by knowledge workers.

Most people interpret jargon to mean terms related to technology. But jargon amongst knowledge and service work has proliferated. Every profession or group has a constantly evolving set of words, expressions and concepts that are difficult for others to understand.

In an interview with Mike Hosking, a Corrections spokesperson justified new money going to prisons as giving prisoners ‘the best experience’ and that they will be ‘supported all the way through their journey’.

That struck us as jargon; phrases and concepts used among peers that would be alien and jarring to many of the public. “Supporting prisoners through their journey” is as much jargon as “Correct within an order of magnitude.” 

Jargon is being used in public because the peer groups using them want other audiences to agree with the values that lie behind the phrases. Many communication advisors agree with the values, or are over-familiar with them, so don’t moderate the jargon for acceptability to external audiences. 

This is a mistake. As professional communicators we should avoid using phrases and concepts that prevent our audience hearing, understanding or agreeing with our point. 

That means we communicate ideas and concepts they might not understand by using phrases and concepts they do understand.  

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