“One should use common words to say uncommon things.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
Jargon is killing us.
Don’t get me wrong, I think jargon has its place. That place is in and among groups of professionals with highly specialized knowledge.
To such groups, jargon is like a code—something of a shortcut—that allows them to share terminology and meaning much more quickly than having to explain it.
But for outsiders? Jargon can make them feel unwelcome.
By its very nature, jargon is designed to exclude. It signals to those who don’t understand it, “You are inferior and you do not belong.”
There are certain industries that use jargon for a variety of (good) reasons.
Lawyers use legal terms that are confusing to mere mortals—even those of us who understand Latin.
Doctors use terminology related to body parts and positions, medical equipment, drugs, and more. I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind if my doctor is using jargon in the operating room. But in the consulting room, I’d prefer plainspeak.
Academia is notorious for using jargon. Of course, professors will profess, but they ought to remember their audiences: students, not other professors.
I’ll never forget my freshman year in a classics course, trying to figure out how to spell “ratiocination” when I was taking notes in a lecture. If the professor had just said “logical reasoning,” it would have been easier for all of us.
If you can’t get enough of this, check out the Pretentious Academic Quote Generator on Twitter.
And don’t forget the business world. I think business borrows heavily from academia in this regard. Just grab a Buzzword Bingo card and track the words that come flying at you.
Even better, see if you can find any favorites in Weird Al Yankovic’s “Mission Statement.”
We must all efficiently
Operationalize our strategies
Invest in world-class technology
And leverage our core competencies
In order to holistically administrate
And as much as it pains me to say this, there might be an example to follow in government. The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees from different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing.
Maybe we could get a version of that group for the web3 world, as it attempts to decentralize web software protocols by making NFTs available on the blockchain for cryptocurrency wallets.
The best thing that could happen to web3 is that someone could explain it in plain English.
It may convey the impression of facile exorbitance , but there’s great power in simplicity.
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Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.