Jargon, field-specific language. Whatever you want to call it. Do you like it? Find it useful? Does it scare you?
I find it fascinating how words can mean so many different things in different industries.
Take the word ‘proof’.
In editing, a ‘proof’ is the page which is checked for errors prior to publishing.
In the drinks industry, it’s the strength of the spirit.
It can also be the process of making something waterproof.
And, then there’s ‘finding proof’ – testing, looking, discovering.
In education there’s a rich seam of jargon. It goes in and out of fashion, but over the years we’ve had:
G and T
SLT / SMT
The list goes on – we certainly love our acronyms.
So what are the benefits?
Speeds things up.
Keeps things on a need-to-know basis.
The issue with that?
For a newbie, it can be like a foreign language.
Deciding to take the plunge in my mid 30s to begin re-training, I was faced with having to learn the language of editing.
You’d think there’d be a lot of crossover with the language I’d been using in English teaching… Not so much.
This has all been new to me. And I’ve absolutely loved learning it. Favourite new knowledge? Has to be the difference between Em and En dashes. I love knowing this stuff!
For anyone in the same position – face the fear! Often all it takes is a quick Google and you’ll be well on your way to cracking the code. Ask people, too. They may not even realise that the words they’ve been using are jargon – they’re so used to them. Just stop them and say ‘I’m sorry, what does that word mean?’ Most people will be pleased to help you out.
So, let me extend this promise to you: if there is any jargon on my website that I’ve unwittingly used and it means nothing to you, just ask! There’s no such thing as a stupid question. I ask them all the time!