Re: Doctors, Engineers, Jargon, etc

Subject: Re: Doctors, Engineers, Jargon, etc
From: "Rollings, Gill" <WGILLR -at- WOK-MSMAIL-GW -dot- ISL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 1994 11:12:00 PDT

Yes, doctors, computer programmers and members of other professions use
jargon. So do the technical writers who support them by writing manuals,
guides and on-line help. Let's face it, every group has its own in-house
shorthand. How many blank looks do you get from family and friends when you
try to explain what you do for a living? How many times do you have to
re-phrase something so that someone from outside the tribe can understand?

Some years ago, when I was struggling to write an essay for one of my
history tutors on Philip IV of Spain and the problems he faced, I hit a snag
when it came to hyper-inflation caused by the arrival of ships full of
silver from South America. I told my tutor that I had been forced to skip
over this because I didn't understand it well enough to explain it fully.
"Don't worry," he said, "economists are like Mediaeval alchemists - they
dress up everything in their own language to keep the rest of us out." Plus
ca change?

But let's not pick on other professionals for keeping us fog-bound when we
are just as likely to try to be exclusive one way or another (as Arlen
Walker and Laura Johnson have pointed out). Well, we have to have something
of our own or we'd be out of a job, wouldn't we?

Gill Rollings, Technical Writer, Internet Systems Ltd
gill -dot- rollings -at- isl -dot- com

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