How and When to Use Jargon in Your Writing

Writing

29th January 2024

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Jargon, a specialised language used by a particular group, profession, or field, can be a double-edged sword when used in your writing. While it fosters precision and facilitates communication within specific communities, its overuse or misuse can alienate readers and hinder comprehension. Explore all the aspects of using jargon, and learn how and when you should employ it judiciously to improve rather than obscure your writing.

Understanding Jargon

Jargon, often referred to as technical language or terminology, is a collection of words and phrases that hold a specific meaning within a particular context. It serves as a shorthand for professionals in a given field, promoting efficient communication among experts. However, when introduced to a broader audience, jargon can pose a barrier to understanding and engagement. Here are some examples across different fields 

Medical Jargon

Without Jargon: “The patient experienced difficulty breathing and had an increased heart rate.”

With Jargon: “The patient presented with dyspnea and tachycardia.”

Technology Jargon

Without Jargon: “The computer program runs slowly and crashes frequently.”

With Jargon: “The software exhibits latency issues and encounters frequent crashes.”

Legal Jargon

Without Jargon: “The accused person is not guilty of the crime.”

With Jargon: “The defendant is acquitted of the charges.”

Scientific Jargon

Without Jargon: “The experiment showed that plants grow faster with increased sunlight.”

With Jargon: “The experimental data indicates a positive correlation between photosynthetic rates and elevated luminosity.”

When Is it Appropriate to Use Jargon in Your Writing?

Deciding when to use jargon can be tricky. Let’s delve into situations where it enhances clarity in your writing versus leaving readers scratching their heads.

Know Your Audience

One of the cardinal rules of effective writing, especially when employing jargon, is to know your audience. Tailoring your language to suit the comprehension levels and familiarity of your readers is crucial. If your audience consists of experts in a specific field, feel free to utilise jargon that resonates with their knowledge. Conversely, when addressing a more diverse or general readership, it is advisable to limit the use of jargon and provide clear explanations where necessary.

Enhancing Precision

Jargon’s primary purpose is to enhance precision in communication within a specialised community. When used appropriately, it allows for the conveyance of complex ideas in a succinct manner. If you are writing for an audience well-versed in the terminology of your field, integrating jargon can streamline your message, making it more concise and precise.

Clarifying Concepts

Jargon becomes a valuable tool when it aids in clarifying complex concepts or ideas. In scientific or technical writing, for instance, certain terms may encapsulate intricate theories or processes more effectively than their layman counterparts. However, it is essential to strike a balance and ensure that your use of jargon does not overshadow the core message or leave your readers feeling alienated.

When to Exercise Caution

While jargon has its merits, it is equally important to exercise caution and be mindful of its potential drawbacks:

  • Alienating Readers: Excessive or unnecessary use of jargon can alienate readers who are not familiar with the specialised language of a particular field. This alienation may result in a loss of interest and comprehension, defeating the purpose of effective communication.
  • Obscuring Meaning: In some cases, jargon can obscure rather than illuminate meaning, especially if its usage is not accompanied by clear explanations. Avoid assuming that all readers share the same level of expertise, and be prepared to provide context to ensure your message remains accessible.
  • Striking a Balance: Striking a balance between precision and accessibility is the key to judiciously using jargon in your writing. Consider your audience, the purpose of your communication, and whether the inclusion of jargon adds value without sacrificing clarity.

Use Jargon Judiciously

By understanding when and how to use jargon judiciously, you can harness its power to enhance precision and clarity within your chosen field. The key lies in a nuanced approach that considers the needs and familiarity of the audience, ensuring that the use of jargon aligns with the broader goal of effective communication. So, the next time you contemplate incorporating jargon into your writing make sure your message resonates with the right balance of expertise and accessibility.

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