Key Term One – Jargon

Jargon – the language peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group. It is characterized by uncommon vocabulary, and is often vague in meaning (unless, of course, you’re in on what the word means).


Jargon is technical terminology for a special group. Every group requires a special language, because every group has its own ideas. Jargon is a lot like slang. It can be used as shorthand, but it is mostly used to express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of the group. Usually, because the group members are “in the know”, jargon causes a bit of a communication barrier to those that are unfamiliar with the language.

New York is littered with jargon, but as a new New Yorker, I’m not completely familiar with much of the language yet. One example from my personal life was the first three weeks or so that I would listen to people as they talked about being on the “train”. I assumed they were on the enormous vehicles chugging in and out of Grand Central Station, but by “train”, the speaker nearly always meant “subway”. I picked this up the second after I comprehended this (because I didn’t ever want to feel that clueless again), and now I refer to the subway as “the train”. However, when I talk to a friend from home and I use this word, I can almost see them picturing an enormous train, not the “train” that I have learned to rely on. This creates the mentioned language barrier –not only for people unfamiliar to New York, but to New Yorkers, as well. I usually have to explain that I was “on Metro-North” instead of “train” to my New York friends.


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