Qualquer um que tentasse entender a crise financeira de 2008 logo se viu afogando em uma sopa de letrinhas de BEITs, CDOs, CDCs, ETFs e MBS. Quando o romancista britânico John Lanchester escreveu sobre este mundo ele comentou que “você fica se perguntando se alguém está tentando enganá-lo, ou ofuscar e tagarelar de modo que você não saiba do que está falando”. Ele não estava errado.
Um estudo recente shows how people are more likely to use jargon when they feel insecure. Led by psychologist Zachariah Brown, it shows how some groups use jargon specifically to make up for having a low social status.
In one experiment, they looked at XNUMX dissertations from hundreds of universities in the US and found that those written by students from lower-status institutions used more jargon. In another part of the study, they asked participants to pick a pitch for a start-up. When people were put into a lower-status position, they found they were more likely to pick jargon-laden pitches. In a range of other settings they noticed that when people found themselves in a low-status position, they were significantly more likely to reach for jargon.
Clearly, there are pitfalls to jargon. Research shows how it can be a major turnoff in the business world. One study found that knowledgeable investors were unimpressed by investment propositions that were filled with unnecessary jargon. Similarly, jargon can make non-experts see new technologies in a more negative light. Another study found that when new technologies are presented to people using jargon, they tend to see them as much riskier.
Jargon is, by definition, exclusionary. This means it can get in the way of understanding crucial information. One study found that the frequent use of medical jargon by doctors meant their patients didn’t understand about half of what their doctors said to them.
Mesmo entre especialistas, pode ser contraproducente. UMA study of different subfields in ecology, for example, found that key terms would often mean very different things to different experts. This would then trigger heated but ultimately fruitless disagreements.
Receba as últimas notícias do InnerSelf
The upside of jargon
Jargon might be infuriating, but it’s also useful. Jargon sums up complex issues in fewer words. This enables experts to talk precisely to each other about concepts they are familiar with.
Jargon can help remove emotion when tackling difficult topics. Doctors, for example, often dehumanise patients by talking about a person in pain as an interesting case of some specific disease. Research shows that this helps create emotional distance, which allows them para tomar decisões mais razoáveis.
Mas isso também pode ser problemático. Em 1984, o Departamento de Estado dos EUA substituiu a palavra "matar" por “Privação ilegal de vida” em seus relatórios de direitos humanos para ajudar a encobrir a desagradável realidade das mortes sancionadas pelo governo em países apoiados pelos EUA.
O jargão também é usado para solidificar um sentimento de pertença a grupos. Lutadores profissionais, for instance, talk about their sport as “business”, getting into the ring as “going to work”, and putting on a convincing performance as “selling”. Similarly, North American truck drivers use expressions like “bobtailing a twin screw jimmy” to purposefully exclude non-truck drivers from their conversations.
Resistindo a uma proibição total
The dangers of jargon have spurred frequent calls to ban it altogether. In XNUMX, the then British prime minister, David Cameron asked civil servants para garantir que suas comunicações fossem livres de jargões. Em 2010, o então presidente dos EUA, Barack Obama assinou o Lei da linguagem simples which required federal government documents to be written in a “clear, concise manner”. Presidents Nixon, Carter and Clinton all signed official orders requiring simple and plain language ser usado no governo.
Todos esses líderes mundiais estavam seguindo os passos de George Orwell que em 1946 Recomenda that you “never use a long word where a short one will do”. But Orwell’s advice was preceded by Thomas Sprat, who in XNUMX wrote how members of the newly founded Royal Society resolved “to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swelling of style: to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men deliver’d so many things, almost in an equal number of words”.
Despite these constant calls for plain language, jargon seems to have a habit of returning. Instead of trying to take on the impossible task of creating a jargon-free world, we might narrow our ambitions and just try to cut out what the scholar Russel Hirst calls “bad jargon”.
Some potential indicators of bad jargon are words that look or sound strange, hybrids or terms that are difficult to pronounce. After chasing out the bad jargon, we need to ensure that any specialist terms which are left are “good jargon”. That means they should be economical, precise and as universal as possible. Instead of fighting against all jargon, we should follow Russell Hirst’s advice and become champions of good jargon and its staunchest defenders.
Sobre o autor
Andre Spicer, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Cass Business School, Cidade, Universidade de Londres