Do you know the real difference between slang and jargon?
I think it’s this…
Slang adds humanity to our language. Jargon sterilises it.
Slang is like us. It’s witty, affectionate, cruel, dismissive and all the other things we like to be.
It’s pregnant with observation and abundant with humour. We relish it, improve it, parade it and unleash it.
Jargon does the opposite.
At its best it’s a precision tool. A way of paring down with exactitude the meaning of concepts and objects.
At its worst it exists to cloud meaning, disguise ignorance and stand proxy for thought or action.
Slang describes the butterfly. Jargon pins it to the display card or conceals it from view.
We laugh at jargon, but we collect slang for pleasure.
That’s why we publish books that make fun of phrases like ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘push the envelope’.
And it’s why we buy books that collect together and savour phrases and definitions like this one.
slanging, n. ‘To exhibit any thing in a fair or market, such as a tall man or a cow with two heads, that’s called slanging, and the exhibiter is called the slang cull‘
So next time you hear some industry leader banging on about how awful today’s yoof slang is, take a look at his website.
If it’s full of ‘solutions’ and ‘strategic objectives’ then I’ve got only one word of advice.