February 12, 2013 by Colin Kelly
I’m committed to eliminating as much meaningless jargon as I can.
It’s something I deal with in my media training workshops but I’m also using this blog to challenge jargon when I come across it when I’m out and about. I hope you’ll do the same.
Anyone responsible for what I consider ‘jargon’ will receive a free Colin Kelly Media ‘Kill The Jargon’ mug which I hope will encourage them to think about the words they use while enjoying some hot beverages. Or drinks.
People and businesses tend to use jargon because they want to come across as more important than they really are, because they want to appear ‘formal’ or because they don’t understand their audience.
There are some situations where formal language can be helpful. For example, saying ‘elevator’ rather than lift. Elevator is used more widely in other English-speaking nations and while it might seem like an example of jargon to us here in Scotland, we still know what it means and so do visitors from the United States.
So what counts as jargon can be in the eye of the beholder and being formal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using the type of jargon I want to eliminate.
Today I’m highlighting the station announcements at Central Station in Glasgow and asking the bosses to consider replacing the jargon with my translations, which are in bold:
‘This service does not convey any smoking accommodation’
‘This train does not have any smoking accommodation’
‘The left luggage office is adjacent to Platform 1′
‘The left luggage office is next to Platform 1′
‘Next to’ is a far easier phrase for a non native English speaker to understand than ‘adjacent to’. There are even some native English speakers who might struggle with ‘adjacent’! Using that word in a station announcement is an attempt to be formal when more than ever, a railway station should be trying to be friendly and approachable.
‘does not convey’ is ridiculous and smacks of self-importance.
And why this great reluctance to call a train ‘a train’? ‘Service’ could be anything. But I think it’s safe to assume it’s a train that’s leaving the platform. And if for any reason it is a bus, elephant, Concorde or ocean liner then I’d very much like them to say that so I can take a picture of such a rare event.
What do you think? And who should I be sending a mug to next?