Jargon or not to jargon? That is the question…

Can jargon actually benefit internal communication?

May 14, 2014

Jargon. Loathed by many, but used by almost everyone at some point or another.

But can it actually have a positive impact for some employees?

Jargon could easily have been a four-letter word in the eyes of many internal communications professionals – little more than another obstacle to overcome to successfully convey key messages to colleagues.

We recently reported that Holiday Inn Express was teaming up with the Plain English Campaign to specifically wage war on communication jargon.

The hotel chain’s ‘Guide to Simple. Smart. Spot On. Speak’ has been created after the company commissioned research into how people feel about unnecessary and complex language.

Headlines’ Chief Executive Peter Doherty went even further in a recent blog post, urging IC experts to “cut the crap” adding he was concerned that “internal communication has become institutionalised. We are so close to the people we are trying to cure that we have caught the disease”.

But an interesting alternative viewpoint emerged this week, citing the benefits that jargon – and specifically the use of acronyms – can bring for companies.

Strategic communication practitioner Mike Klein has seen the value of jargon for those organisations with a global workforce.

In this fascinating blog post, he explains: “Having worked the last seven years as a native English communicator in non-native English countries, there’s one simple fact that anti-jargon fundamentalists overlook: jargon, and acronyms in particular, is often easier for non-native speakers to understand than the fully-fleshed out English term or a seemingly more appealing contraction or substitute.

“What I have found in writing for non-native English speakers is that while simplicity is important, specificity is absolutely crucial, and the use of acronyms and jargon may well make things more, rather than less, understandable.”

So the jargon debate rumbles on. Easy to despise, but it’s certainly less than simple to remove completely.

To read Mike Klein’s full article, click here…