Every time I delve into a new hobby, I’m swarmed by new words and concepts that I’ve never heard before.
When studying cinematography for my Youtube videos, I came across the term ‘short-sided’ compositions.
A short-sided composition means that the subject is looking out of the frame, instead of into the frame.
Why didn’t they just say that?
I found it annoying because they could have used plain language, but instead, I had to jump through the hoops of googling numerous more terms just like it.
Recently, I came to understand ‘jargon’ in a completely new light.
Jargon: “special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.”
Why do we create specialised terms that only a few of us can understand?
Is it to block out the ‘others’? To be uninviting? Or is it part of a culture to complicate things so that we feel like we have all the ‘inside knowledge’?
It took me a while to wrap my head around the bigger picture.
As a medical doctor, I’ve been taught to avoid jargon when speaking with patients. However, I’ve never been encouraged to think about the benefits of using jargon with my peers.
Saying that someone has ‘tuberculosis’ instead of just an ‘infection’ carries much more meaning, clarity and precision. From that single word, my peers and I are able to understand the exact nature of the infection, the symptoms at hand and even how to manage it.
Jargon is necessary where complex ideas and concepts need to be indexed through words.
It allows groups, communities and professions to instantly package these ideas into small, conversational gifts of understanding.
For those who frequently visit the same ideas in conversation, jargon saves them the time and energy from having to repeatedly deconstruct their thinking into their own words.
When a community decides to label and index those ideas into a structured library of terms, they save every consequent member from the burden of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Jargon doesn’t hold outsiders back, it allows insiders to thrive.