According to Dictionary.com, Jargon is “the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group.” Oftentimes we don’t realize we are slipping into a particular jargon. Over time I have learned to recognize when I am speaking in jargon, and how to translate jargon so others can learn it as well.

Everyone thinks of jargon when they see doctors, lawyers, scientists, and other highly educated individuals. Usually we see jargon as a negative, and condescension on the part of the user. However, most individuals don’t recognize the jargon they own, the particular pieces of language they have picked up from their friends and co-workers. All of us have multiple jargons, we just fail to identify them.

Example: I am a gamer. Gamers have a very peculiar jargon, with several subsets depending on what type of gamer you are (tabletop, board, card, miniatures, or any of dozens of others, and subsets of each of the major groups). Now, most gamers start fairly young, and pick up lingo over time as they game. Most have forgotten what it’s like to be a noob (new player) who doesn’t understand the jargon. I only started gaming a few years ago, and had no clue what NPC (non-player character), XP (experience), AC (armor class), TPK (total party kill), glass cannon (does a lot of damage, can’t take a hit), or any of hundreds of other words, phrases, and abbreviations I have learned through immersing myself in the gaming world.

Another jargon I speak is the peculiar language of those who have studied English (or, rather, literature) extensively. Metaphors, similes, aphorism, meter, beat, archetypes, and so many more words we use to dissect a story, a character, or image. This jargon, because I have been immersed in it for so much longer, is more difficult for me to translate out of for others. I forget myself in this jargon, and realize halfway through the person I’m speaking with doesn’t understand half of what I’m saying.

A few jargons I don’t speak: mechanic. Stereotypes aside, I just never had the inclination or the opportunity to learn much beyond basic car maintenance. I’m not talking an oil change here. I’m talking the jargon of a true mechanic, someone who knows the insides of cars, and the options. The person who takes a broken down old beater and restores it into a work of art. The language spoken by that individual is every bit as complicated as the language of a rocket scientist, it’s just a different jargon (although they might have some crossover, who knows?).

Chefs have a jargon (and it’s a little different, although related, to restaurateur jargon), I’m partially fluent, as are most people if they can follow the directions of any basic recipe (including microwave oven directions).

All of us have multiple jargons at varying levels of fluency, usually used with specific friend groups. “Jargon” has a reputation for being snooty, but it’s really just slang belonging to specific skills or settings.

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