#AtoZAprilChallenge: Jargon

Jargon “Jargon, it might be said, has become, in some modern uses, a jargon word. It is now most commonly used to describe, unfavourably or contemptuously,  the vocabulary of certain unfamiliar branches of knowledge or intellectual positions.” From Keywords, where Williams also remarks that: “…it is also true that the use of a new term or the new definition of a concept is often the necessary form of a challenge to other ways of thinking or of indication of new and alternative ways.”

From Wikipedia: Modern versus Post-Modern opinions on the use of jargon – “George Orwell, a socialist, leftist, and Marxist, believes in the modern style of language, deeming that good writing is clear and simple. In his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” he states the following arguments: technical language is nothing but an oratorical trick, simple language is required to clarify difficult concepts, while complex language is needed to explain simple concepts, and lastly, political language is structured to make lies seem like the truth. In short, Orwell is articulating that specialized language is not essential.

Judith Butler presents several postmodernist rebuttals to Orwell’s arguments. She states that difficult concepts need to be expressed with specialized vocabulary, or jargon. She quotes Marcuse, who believes that if people could use plain language to describe something, they would. She is attempting to prove that jargon is natural and necessary. Butler also says “language conditions thought,” meaning that the words we use shape the way we think. Stephen Roney responds to that by saying that if language fully conditioned thought, we would not be able to think about language. The last argument that Butler states is “if you’re talking about something obscure, your language should be obscure to reflect this accurately.”

Butler believes that specialized vocabulary is essential in writing and oratory because language should mirror reality. Orwell opposes most of her arguments with his modern style of language by saying that simplicity is the key to good writing and dialect because language should be easy for the audience to comprehend.”

2 thoughts on “#AtoZAprilChallenge: Jargon

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  1. Interesting post. Jargon, in my opinion, is the use of language which excludes accessibility to all. I try not to utilise Jargon when writing for the web, but find old habits do creep back in. Thank goodness for editing.

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