Thursday, 1 September 2011

Can you spot jargon?

Each industry has its own language. Some words or phrases stand out immediately as jargon, for example ‘sinusoidal road humps’ in Lambeth Council’s road safety scheme.

But some jargon is more subtle, especially where industries adopt a word and give it a new meaning.

Subtle jargon 
In the travel industry, a ‘direct flight’ is not what it sounds like. Yes, it flies you from A to B but it can include a stopover in C.

It's ‘non-stop’ flights that fly you directly from A to B.

And in the charity world, the word 'beneficiaries' means the people that are helped by a charity - the people helped by your donations. 

Why not write for newbies?
Even if you feel sure most readers will understand a certain industry phrase, think of the people who just joined the industry today. Why not write for newbies?

Abbreviations
Does NI stand for National Insurance or Northern Ireland? Is the IPCC the Independent Police Complaints Commission or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

In web content, reports and PowerPoint presentations we often spell out an acronym just once and expect people to remember what it means.

But if there's a risk of people forgetting what the initials stand for, would it hurt to spell out an acronym a second time?

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