Jargon: everybody knows they’re supposed to avoid it. Everybody thinks they do. But they don’t.
It creeps in everywhere because people who work in the same field tend to develop a terminology that works for them; a kind of shorthand. That’s not such a bad thing within the group. It can even bind them together.
The problem comes when they need to communicate outside the group.
Take this sentence:
To investigate this point we returned to the same dataset of lateral partner hires over five years.
Our villain is ‘lateral’. It’s a perfectly good word, but here it definitely qualifies as jargon. I assume it means hiring people in at the same level. But I’m not sure, so the meaning of the sentence becomes something of a mystery to me.
We’re on the alert for jargon when it comes to complex subjects like finance and technology. But it’s the everyday habits we get in to that really trip us up.
So double check: are you using a normal word in a way that people outside your specific circle may not understand?
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