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30 July 2006

Weird Words

Jargon:
1. Nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk.
2. A hybrid language or dialect; a pidgin.
3. The specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group.
4. Speech or writing having unusual or pretentious vocabulary, convoluted phrasing, and vague meaning.


What an odd concept jargon is. It refers both to highly specialized speech used within a narrow field (such as legal jargon) and absolutely meaningless babble. That’s like having only one word to mean overly stuffed and starving. But think about the similarities for a moment.

If “muncheed” meant either you were starving and needed something to munch, or you were completely stuffed and all munched out, no one would know what you were trying to communicate. Isn’t the same true for jargon? Start using the elitist technical jargon of lawyerese and people will have the same reaction. They won’t know if you are trying to wow them with your depth of knowledge or are experiencing a psychomotor seizure, which can cause staring, mental confusion, uncoordinated and random movement, incoherent speech and behavior outbursts (hmmm… still kind of sounds like some lawyers, doesn’t it?).

Okay, maybe jargon is aptly named describing two opposite ends of the speech spectrum, but why do we need five different words for any one thing anyway? Maybe those guys who make the big bucks off of writing, publishing, and selling thesauruses are responsible for this phenomenon. Whenever the royalties start to slow they come up with a bunch of new words to mean old things and publish them in the word power section of Reader’s Digest. All the unwary subscribers who subsequently score 3 out of 10 and are ashamed at the lack of their word prowess and decide to purchase the latest edition of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Or perhaps prideful but intellectually challenged citizens are to blame. Whenever they cannot think of something sufficiently proper sounding or intellectual they just make something up and it catches on until it is eventually incorporated into the English language. (And before you ask, yes politicians are included in this category… and most men who at one time or another in their life tried to impress a woman with their insightful theory on the hot topic of the day which they know absolutely nothing about.)

The most likely culprit, however are those literary folks like novelists and poets. I can see it now – the poet is up against a deadline and it is two o’clock in the morning. He must find something that goes well with presumptuous and means beautiful. Let’s see – pretty? No. Beautiful? No, all wrong. Argh! There just isn’t a word that works. Unless… Hmmm, what about pulchritudinous? Ah yes, perfect!

And so another useless word is born.

1 comment:

Disbeliever of Weird Words said...

Ergo, let's jerry-rig up some more bloggins'.

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