An article in the NY Times last month described how the Internet is the shortening the shelf life of slang. According to the story:
The number of slang dictionaries is growing, both online and off, not
to mention social networking media that invent and discard words,
phrases and memes at the speed of broadband. The life of slang is now
shorter than ever, say linguists, and what was once a reliable code for
identifying members of an in-group or subculture is losing some of its
magic… The Internet “is robbing slang of a lot of its sociolinguistic
exclusionary power,” said Robert A. Leonard, a linguistics professor at
Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y… widespread understanding is the opposite of what slang is about.
This got me to wondering whether the same thing might be happening with
tech jargon. After all, don't us industry folk use jargon as "a
reliable code for identifying members of an in-group?" One could also argue that tech jargon runs through the mill much more quickly these days.
The great big elephant in the room in tech is that words are used to exclude and impress. People have conversations and feel each other out in terms of what they know and what they can get away with saying. It is equal part bluffer's game, showboating, and obfuscation.
Charting the trajectory of specific words is not easy, according to the article.
Tracking a word’s arc from hip to lame is notoriously difficult,
especially because different social groups grab hold of different terms
at different times.
It described words and phrases that are in decline:
And the site Gawker recently tried without success to ban the phrase “I’m just sayin,’ ” which has become ubiquitous on blogs and Twitter
as a way of defanging — disingenuously, perhaps — a potentially
I reflected on a conversation I had with my daughter the other day about pop music. It seems that many lame songs these days have over-produced sound effects thrown in that are very irritating. I told her that, just like good steak, songs that are really good should not need such spicing up.
Similarly, marketers with quality products should not have to rely on jargon or marketing speak to jazz up what they are selling.
Instead of taking pains to ensure you are using the jargon d' jour, why not just speak plainly? Would this be such a bad thing? I'm just sayin.