Re(2): When users want jargon

Subject: Re(2): When users want jargon
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 08:46:42 +0200

>I believe a useful branch of this discussion may be "By what criteria do
>you determine whether a specific element of jargon is acceptable or

Here are some criteria that I employ:

- Is there a commonly known synonym? If so, it can be used to replace the
jargon. For example, the expression "tasked with" has become common in
some circles recently. In most cases, one could just as easily write
"asked to" or "ordered to".

- Is the term over-precise? In some cases, engineering employs very
precise descriptions where the user is served better with more general
but better-known terms. For example, instead of being instructed to
connect "the shielded twisted-pair cable", you can simply refer to "the
data cable" (assuming there is only one such cable, as there was in the
case I'm thinking of).

- Is the term company-specific or used in a company-specific way? If it
is not used outside the company, I tend to replace the term. (Unless
writing internal documentation.) For example, in a company we are writing
for, the term "window" is used for a frame in an HTML window.

- Has the jargon term a precise meaning? Some expressions are used more
to sound good than to carry meaning; the infamous "paradigm" comes to
mind. I would avoid such terms in technical communication (as opposed to
marketing literature :-)

Jan Henning

PS: For what it's worth, both 'migrate' and 'deselect' would probably
pass all these filters.

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:

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