Grammar Guidance / Practical Assistance / Writing Advice

Jargon and Slang: U noobz need to future-proof these potentialities

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Picture from Academic Jargon for Dummies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE–zwDXfMA

This article aims to credibly maintain multifunctional strategic theme areas. Or rather, it aims to eliminate sentences like that last one from your writing. Bad writing takes many forms, but two of the most common include overuse of technical, abstract and/or field specific language: jargon. The other involves, like you know, like writing really absolutely like a teenager: slang. The examples here, represented extreme cases but most writers often slip into one or the other, or both. Fortunately, the internet is awash with help. Here are some useful podcasts and articles explaining what to look out for, and how to avoid using slang and jargon in your writing.

Jargon

– A 17 minute podcast from the BBC on the dangers of jargon, based on the best-selling book “Plain Words”:

“Why do we use jargon – the deliberate obfuscation of language? Or in other words, saying things in a way that makes it difficult to understand. George Orwell, in the early 20th Century, hated this ‘inflated style’ of writing and there have been many attempts to get rid of it. In the 1940s Sir Ernest Gowers from the British Civil Service wrote a book – Plain Words – which has been reprinted again and again, most recently by his great grand-daughter who tells presenter Mike Williams why jargon is just as bad today as it ever was. It has been blamed for pulling the wool over the eyes of the general public and it’s the same all over the world.”

– Politics and the English Language by George Orwell remains perhaps the best explanation of why and how writers should keep their sentences simple.

Slang 

This Mash article provides a list of 15 words that make you sound like a simpleton. I bet you use at least one of them frequently.

– A typically thorough guide from the Purdue Writing Lab that covers in their words:

  1. Levels of Formality: Writing in a style that your audience expects and that fits your purpose is key to successful writing.
  2. In-Group Jargon: Jargon refers to specialized language used by groups of like-minded individuals. Only use in-group jargon when you are writing for members of that group. You should never use jargon for a general audience without first explaining it.
  3. Slang and idiomatic expressions: Avoid using slang or idiomatic expressions in general academic writing.
  4. Deceitful language and Euphemisms: Avoid using euphemisms (words that veil the truth, such as “collateral damage” for the unintended destruction of civilians and their property) and other deceitful language.
  5. Biased language: Avoid using any biased language including language with a racial, ethnic, group, or gender bias or language that is stereotypical.”

If for some reason you need to confuse your audience or readers quickly but lack the Jargon to do it, here is a handy instant jargon generator for business, and here’s one for academia and education.

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