On Technical Jargon II

July 1, 2021

July 1, 2021

Many of the individuals in my reading audience classify themselves as “professionals.” A good number of them would also classify themselves as “technical”. I think of myself as fitting into both categories but I doubt anyone would agree with me.

Here’s what I recently wrote about technical professionals communicating with the average citizen: “Be honest, fresh, and open … technical language and jargon are useful as professional shorthand, but they are barriers to successful communication with the public.” I believe this is good advice when dealing with the public. But, it is another matter if you are dealing with another professional. All bets are then off, and many revert to a language that resides solely in the domain of the professional. I became aware of the unique phenomena following receiving two potable water provisional patents, the submission of a report to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the preparation of a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF). Although words can mean different things to different people, I have listed below two dozen sentences and phrases employed by us gifted few; each is followed by a layman’s pragmatic definition and / or explanation.

  • Congratulations continue to pour in – The only thing being poured is the Dewars to help me forget this mess.
  • I can say with certainty – My brother-in-law Vito (on my wife’s side) mentioned it to me last night in a Go-Go joint.
  • We can say with certainty – My cohorts were also there.
  • A Foundation Director concluded – She read it in the New York tabloids.
  • An informed local official concluded – He’s got an IQ to match his age.
  • An informed state official concluded – Her IQ is in the single digit range.
  • An informed federal official concluded – He doesn’t have an IQ.
  • An informed career federal official concluded – His IQ approaches negative infinity during any thought process.
  • There may be negative international repercussions – Only if our findings get out.
  • Definitely worthy of NSF support – It is a totally useless project that can in no way serve mankind.
  • My mental process has concluded the following – Your guess is as good as mine.
  • A reliable source has just informed me – A guy named Pepe mentioned it to me in a bar last night; we were both cockeyed.
  • There is wide range agreement – No one believes a word of it, including my colleague Lefty.
  • The results appear to indicate a trend – Unfortunately, we can’t figure out what the trend is.
  • The results appear to indicate a definite trend – We are totally confused at this point in time.
  • We intend to pursue this aspect of the investigation vigorously – Only if someone puts up the moola.
  • Based on my limited experience – I’m looking for clues.
  • Based on my experience – I’m desperately looking for clues.
  • Based on my extensive experience – I’m clueless.
  • Getting started on the study was no problem – We simply assumed the subject in question to be a sphere.
  • Thanks are due – I had to mention his name since dinner at his restaurant last week was on the arm.
  • Thanks are due the NSF – I have a policy of thanking anyone who gives me money on a no-strings-attached basis.
  • My colleagues congratulated me – They really meant that I was mentally deranged.
  • If I were you Thank God I’m not.

Much of the above material was drawn from yes, an earlier “On Technical Gargos” article that appeared in the press on July 6, 2000 – 21 years ago … and much of it still applies.

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AUGUST 1:                On Great Eats VI

SEPTEMBER 1:         On Technical Writing

OCTOBER 1:             Zzzabuu V


Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Practice inbounding the ball at various locations on the court when the opposing team is pressing.
  2. The player nearest to the ball should take it out immediately after a basket or foul shot and pass it to the first open man.
  3. Do not leave the foul line after the first of two (or three) free throws, and do not slap / shake the hand of a fellow teammate.