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Problems With Diction and Jargon

Problems With Diction and Jargon

Diction means word use; any word that a writer or speaker uses is diction. Jargon refers to word use (or diction) that is specialized or appropriate to a particular group. Jargon is often used pejoratively as coded word use, to appeal to a particular group; often it is used to exclude those outside the group. But jargon, as the vocabulary (diction) of a particular group, shouldn't be thought of as necessarily negative. If jargon can make communication easier within a group, then it should be used. It's only when the jargon of one group starts to leak into the vocabulary of another or when one group starts to appropriate the jargon of another, that misunderstanding may arise.

For example, when some groups start to talk about interfacing with one another, they are using language to obscure the actual activity: talking about ideas with other people. Interfacing is frequently used in computer science, in which bringing one function of a computer program into contact with another constitutes an interface. Interfacing seems all right to use as the name of a technical activity in computer technology, because it has a specific meaning, and everyone involved in the technology knows immediately what it means. But when others use the term to mean something as simple as discussing ideas and problems with other people, it assumes a falsely official or technical tone—an attempt to make something sound more important than it really is—the same problem that nominalization tends to foster.


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