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Jargon is technical terminology characteristic of a specialized activity or group.


  • What is or is not the jargon is determined by whether the word is written in an intonation which places it transcendently in opposition to its own meaning; by whether the individual words are loaded at the expense of the sentence, its propositional force, and the thought content. In that sense the character of the jargon would be quite formal: it sees to it that what it wants is on the whole felt and accepted through its mere delivery, without regard to the content of the words used.
    • Theodor Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity (1964), K. Tarnowski, trans. (1973), p. 8
  • The jargon makes it seem that ... the pure attention of the expression to the subject matter would be a fall into sin.
    • Theodor Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity (1964), K. Tarnowski, trans. (1973), p. 9
  • Whoever is versed in the jargon does not have to say what he thinks, does not even have to think it properly. The jargon takes over this task.
    • Theodor Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity (1964), K. Tarnowski, trans. (1973), p. 9
  • Words of the jargon sound as if they said something higher than what they mean.
    • Theodor Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity (1964), K. Tarnowski, trans. (1973), p. 9
  • [Today’s jargon] was produced by philosophy and was in Europe known to have been produced by philosophy, so that it paved a road to philosophy. In America its antecedents remain unknown. We took over the results without having had any of the intellectual experiences leading to them. But the ignorance of the origins and the fact that American philosophy departments do not lay claim to them—are in fact just as ignorant of them as is the general public—means that the philosophic content of our language and lives does not direct us to philosophy. This is a real difference between the Continent and us. Here the philosophic language is nothing but jargon.
    • Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), pp. 378-379
  • More often than we are aware, it is the jargon which is the hurdle that a student cannot overcome rather than the mathematical concepts being introduced. After all, virtually every profession has realized the advantage of inventing sufficient jargon to ensure that it is held in respect by the layman! In teaching, however, our aim should be to pull down barriers, not erect them.
    • Graham Flegg, Numbers: Their History and Meaning (1983)
  • Jargon or gobbledygook, or what people who live in Washington or Ottawa call "federal prose," [is] the gabble of abstractions and vague words which avoids any simple or direct statement. ... Direct and simple language always has some force behind it, and the writers of gobbledygook don't want to be forceful; they want to be soothing and reassuring.
    • Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination (1963), Massey Lecture 6: 'The Vocation of Eloquence'
  • Ancient philosophy proposed to mankind an art of living. By contrast, modern philosophy appears above all as the construction of a technical jargon reserved for specialists.
    • Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase, p. 272
  • Margaret Mead noted... that scientists at the frontier, where the terminology and imagery are developed, speak mostly to other scientists at or near their own level of understanding. In this way, scientific language has escaped from the realm of "natural language." This is the fate of "any language taught only by adults to adults - or to children as if they were adults. ...It serves in the end primarily to separate those who know it from those who do not." Since then, linguists and anthropologists have been reinforcing the point that the cure cannot come from simple "translation" but may lie in recognizing that a difference in languages reflects a difference in world views. Without making the mutual accommodation of these views a prominent part of the agenda, science teaching probably has to remain superficial. I refer here to the work of R. Horton on African traditional thought and Western science, and of J. Jones in... New Guinea; both... have studied the ways in which the traditional cultures of the new learners differ from the scientific cultures of the teachers, and how and to what limited degree these differences can be decreased.
    • Gerald Holton, "Metaphors in Science and Education," From a Metaphorical Point of View (1995) ed. Zdravko Radman, p. 274, and quoting Margaret Mead, "Closing the Gap Between the Scientists and the Others," Daedalus (1959) 88, p. 139-146.
  • Functional discourse ... serves as a vehicle of coordination and subordination. The unified, functional language is an irreconcilably anti-critical and anti-dialectical language. In it, operational and behavioral rationality absorbs the transcendent, negative, oppositional elements of Reason.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • In the natural sciences, language (mathematics) is a useful tool: like the microscope or telescope, it enables us to see what is otherwise invisible. In the social sciences, language (literalized metaphor) is an impediment: like a distorting mirror, it prevents us from seeing the obvious. That is why in the natural sciences, knowledge can be gained only with the mastery of their special languages; whereas in human affairs, knowledge can be gained only by rejecting the pretentious jargons of the social sciences.

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