Friday, December 21, 2007

Are those some pentapeptides in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

Jargon is a strange thing. It's usually defined as a kind of specialist or technical language used only by a particular group. The jargon of different groups can be baffling to outsiders, but that's usually part of its appeal: if they don't know what you're on about, you might be able to say rude things without them finding out. It can also be used to create the impression that you know what you're on about. (If I start calling pictures graphology, or words lexis, I might start fooling someone that I know what I'm on about...)

So, this report in The Daily Mail (I promise I didn't buy it - I saw a woman from Chingford reading it on the train) about cosmetics companies' using pseudo-scientific jargon to bamboozle unsuspecting readers is quite a good read. According to some experts, the cosmetics firms are making up their own words to try and make their products sound more high-tech than they really are.

Elsewhere, this article about in-group medical jargon includes such gems as "doing a Hasselhof" - inflicting a bizarre and possibly alcohol-related injury to yourself - and being a Jack Bauer - a doctor still standing after 24 hours.

Useful for:
ENA1 - Language & Representation
ENA5 - Language Change

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