Thursday, 12 January 2012


I wrote a piece for Design Week a while back. It was about jargon in the creative industry. Terms like copy and iteration. I heard from quite a few people who agreed with my argument - that we need to make sure we only use this sort of language when we know a reader/listener will understand it ie most of the time, we should avoid it. But some people argued that these terms aren't jargon - they're industry terms.

It's a fair point. Sometimes, these terms aren't jargon. If two people who use them both understand them and know each other understands them, they're fine. As long as they don't start using them outside that environment. And as long as someone from outside that environment doesn't hear them. Because then they become jargon.

I read an article on SMEWEB earlier about the language of pensions:

'The research results also shows that more than half (57 per cent) say that sometimes pensions seem so complicated they can’t understand the best options available, while one in three people are putting off thinking about saving for retirement because they find pensions confusing.'

The article says this is down to 'jargon'.

And that's the problem with jargon. It excludes, it confuses, it can make people feel stupid. I bet the people writing pension information aren't going for hugely technical language. They're probably just using the terms they'd use with each other, inside the big pension factory, where all the pension people get together and talk about pensions.

But they shouldn't use those terms when they're talking to people outside that world. People like you and me. Because we don't understand them. We just want to know how to put money away for the future.

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