jargon

jargon
jargon
1. history of the term.
The OED gives several meanings for jargon, all except one mostly derogatory in connotation. The prevailing current senses of the word are (1) ‘words or expressions used by a particular group or profession’, and (2) ‘incomprehensible talk, gibberish’, with the second regarded as arising conceptually out of the first, although this is not how the meanings evolved historically. The exception just mentioned is the meaning ‘the inarticulate utterance of birds’, which is the oldest sense, is found in Chaucer, and as the OED notes ‘has been revived in modern [i.e. 19c] literature’, e.g. by Longfellow:

• With beast and bird the forest rings, Each in his jargon cries or sings —Return of Spring 6.

Both meanings given above developed (apart from an isolated Middle English use of the second) in the 17c; there is a good example in the notice ‘Bookseller to Reader’ published with Swift's Tale of a Tub (1704): If I should go about to tell the reader, by what accident I became master of these papers, it would, in this unbelieving age, pass for little more than the cant or jargon of the trade.
2. jargon in the right place.
Every profession and sphere of activity develops its own jargon to enable its members or participants to communicate effectively with one another; medicine, law, gastronomy, sociology, and (most recently) computing are well-known examples. The following example is drawn from a work of literary criticism:

• The view of the text…has been seriously challenged in recent years, mainly by structuralist and semiological schools of criticism. According to these, the text has no within, beneath or behind where hidden meanings might be secreted. Attention is instead focused exclusively on the processes and structures of the text and on the ways in which these produce meanings, positions of intelligibility for the reader or the specific effects of realism, defamiliarisation or whatever —T. Bennett, 1982.

It will be seen from this example that jargon consists of ordinary words used in special ways as well as specially devised words (such as defamiliarisation). Jargon often arises from a need for precision, when terms that would be acceptable in general contexts are not precise enough in specialized use, combined with a need for concision in order to avoid having to repeat lengthy expressions that are likely to recur in a piece of writing. When the archaeologist Colin Renfrew called the driving out of a people from their normal territory a constrained population displacement, he was using a term devised to summarize an argued proposition without having to repeat lengthy explanations each time.
3. jargon in the wrong place.
Examples are given in the entry for gobbledegook of jargon misused, when it is intended to be intelligible to the public at large or to people who are not members of the profession or activity concerned. In the Oxford Guide to Plain English (2004), 154–6, Martin Cutts quotes the following example of jargon used by a housing association in letters to its tenants explaining why modernization work has been delayed: Find attached a draft programme for the anticipated commencement date on your property and we anticipate that the work will take three or four days to complete. Your next contact will be by the contractor…who will contact you individually about a week prior to the start at your house. If you anticipate any problems with access arrangements or require any further information, please do not hesitate to call…[etc.]. Cutts rewrites this section of the letter as follows, removing the jargon and simplifying the structure to produce a version that is not only much clearer but more reassuring to the reader when reassurance is the intention of the letter: I attach a programme which shows the likely starting date for work on your property. We expect the work will take three or four days to complete. You will hear next from the contractor…who will contact you about a week before work at your house begins. Please call…if you think the contractor will have any problems with access to your house, or if you need any more information.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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  • Jargon — Jargon …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • jargon — 1. (jar gon) s. m. 1°   Langage corrompu. •   Tout ce que vous prêchez est, je crois, bel et bon ; Mais je ne saurais, moi, parler votre jargon, MOL. F. sav. II, 6. •   L impudente ! appeler un jargon le langage Fondé sur la raison et sur le bel… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • jargon — JARGÓN, jargoane, s.n. 1. Limbaj specific anumitor categorii sociale, care reflectă dorinţa celor ce l vorbesc de a se distinge de masa mare a vorbitorilor şi care se caracterizează prin abundenţa cuvintelor şi expresiilor pretenţioase, de obicei …   Dicționar Român

  • Jargon — Jar gon, n. [F. jargon, OF. also gargon, perh. akin to E. garrulous, or gargle.] 1. Confused, unintelligible language; gibberish. A barbarous jargon. Macaulay. All jargon of the schools. Prior. [1913 Webster] 2. Hence: an artificial idiom or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Jargon — Sm erw. fach. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus frz. jargon (eigentlich unverständliches Gerede ), dieses aus vor rom. * gargone Gezwitscher, Geschwätz .    Ebenso nndl. jargon, ne. jargon, nfrz. jargon, nschw. jargong, nnorw. sjargong. ✎ DF 1… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • jargon — JARGON. s. m. Langage corrompu. Cet homme parle si mal François, que je n entends point son jargon. Il sign. aussi, Un langage concerté, que l on fait pour n estre entendu que de ceux avec qui on a intelligence. Les bohemiens, les gueux, les… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Jargon — Jar gon, n. [E. jargon, It. jiargone; perh. fr. Pers. zarg[=u]n gold colored, fr. zar gold. Cf. {Zircon}.] (Min.) A variety of zircon. See {Zircon}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Jargon — Jar gon (j[aum]r g[o^]n), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Jargoned} ( g[o^]nd); p. pr. & vb. n. {Jargoning}.] To utter jargon; to emit confused or unintelligible sounds; to talk unintelligibly, or in a harsh and noisy manner. [1913 Webster] The noisy jay,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • jargon — I (technical language) noun argot, cant, code, coined words, language of a particular profession, legalese, neologism, neology, private language, professional language, professional vocabulary, specialized language, specialized terminology,… …   Law dictionary

  • jargon — UK US /ˈdʒɑːgən/ noun [U] ► language used by a particular group of people, especially in their work, and which most other people do not understand: »business/legal/economic jargon …   Financial and business terms

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