This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Jargon - a rant

Language changes all the time, of course. Sometimes new things come along which need names, and sometimes people want to make up their own special names for their own special things.

For instance, the invention of aeroplanes gave us gremlin (an invisible creature to blame when something goes wrong. This has proved a very useful word for all sorts of technologies) and window (metallic strips thrown out of aircraft to confuse radar systems).

The invention of computers has given us loads of new words including RAM (Random Access Memory) and software.

New words like this are bound to make things difficult for newcomers, of course, but sometimes it just can't be helped.

Sometimes, however, it can.

Lady Justice Hallett has been hearing about London's 7/7 bombings. She has been told a story of great wickedness, great bravery, great kindness, and great confusion.

Some of the confusion was preventable. What is a "conference demountable unit from a management centre"?

Not enough people knew.

"All you senior people of ...[the emergency services] are allowing yourselves to be taken over by... jargon," said Lady Hallett. "...people don't understand".

Words are fun, fascinating, and valuable.

And sometimes, sadly, using them with respect really is a matter of life or death.

Word of the day: jargon.  This word seems to have started out as an imitatation of the sound people make when they talk nonsense.

Very fitting.

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