Friday, September 26, 2008

Jargon: Between Economy and Snobbery

Every particular academic discipline is its own sub-culture, operating with its own scholarly language. This language is a necessary thing, allowing scholars to speak to one another without having to go over the preliminaries time and time again. It's useful. However, my question is: when does the technical language of a particular field cease to be a matter of economy and start being an occassion for snobbery? When does the field stop conveying information and start clouding it?


Anonymous said...

When we lack the ability to communicate to the non-scholar. I'm a Christian and a phd student. I want to make sure that I am always able to communicate rich and deep theological/biblical issues, to a congregation. This means that I should always be looking at how to avoid using language which puts people off.

My wife is not a scholar or into academic theology/bib studies. try to talk her through, in laymans terms, the content of any papers which i submit.

Josh McManaway said...

I agree! We certainly aren't doing this just to keep the information amongst ourselves. Isn't this the reason people dedicate their lives to academia? To gather up a lot of information, assimilate it, then distribute it to as many people as possible in the most understandable form.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Reminds me of a statistics conference I attended earlier this year where a professor in the medical field who was using the stat software package gave a presentation that I doubt anyone there understood because I'd guess 80% of the terms she used would only be known in the medical field and certainly not amongst statisticians.

A brilliant lady speaking to a brilliant crowd and probably not much communication going on. I insist that genius is largely in the ability to communicate with those who aren't at your level for whatever reason. At least that's what I like to believe when someone talks over my head. ;)

Levi said...

I thought of this when in a directed study i was working on translating the sections of the Temple Scroll, and a few hours later I was teaching Jr. High students a lesson which seemed to always talk about "clicks" and how to "act like Jesus" when your little brother won't stop bugging you.

It made me laugh, at least.

Also, I noticed when the pastor of my church receives constant love from the congregants, not because of his exegesis, but because "he breaks it down where it makes sense".

thanks for that post, many of us could use this reminder from time to time