Jargon 101: bringing the outside in

Jan 14th, 2016

Jargon gets a bad name – but is it all bad, or is there something about jargon and industry specific language that we’re no longer connecting with?

Jargon is mostly condemned for the connotations and associations we have developed with what George Orwell, a champion of precision in language, called ‘duckspeak’ (in the novel 1984), but what we probably know better as corporatespeak, buzzwords and buzzphrases.

It is taken to have an interchangeable meaning with the mindless quacking associated with the David Brent types in offices up and down the country – we ‘touch base’ these days, rather than have meetings, we ‘put a pin in it’ ‘at the end of the day’, or until we can ‘reach out’, but jargon is actually something else entirely and can be inclusive if we allow people in.

The OED’s definition one of jargon is enlightening in this regard:

Jargon: Special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand…



It is clear from this definition that jargon is, typically, exclusive – and while most people need never learn the language of an industry they do not inhabit, this difficulty in understanding does not only apply to ‘others’, but also to new starters at any company in any industry – especially those entering into digital marketing.

As digital marketing develops and (as we have discussed in other blog posts) begins to compete for the same graduates, both creative and technical, as traditional media and marketing, there are going to be highly talented individuals, with key skills, entering the world of digital marketing only to be faced with a language and vocabulary that has diverged and grown from its everyday counterpart for almost fifteen years. This is not to be exclusive (at least, not entirely), but – through necessity in a high paced, high information industry – a series of phrases, acronyms and a wealth of terminology has grown to keep up with ongoing developments.


For this reason our industry can seem intimidating not just to those outside, but also to those newly welcomed inside. This is why Click Consult has begun to spend time compiling glossaries – just as a phrase book and some key terms can help you to survive a new country, so too can it help you adjust to a new industry.

Armed with the jargon of our industry, a newcomer no longer needs to feel embarrassed at not understanding, or in having to ask for clarification (though questions should never be discouraged), they are empowered with a wealth of knowledge, knowledge it has taken the industry a decade and a half to accrue.

Jargon, in its truest sense (excluding, ‘at the end of the day’, all of the ‘out of the box’, ‘blue sky thinking’ otherwise) is about clarity of communication within an industry, not about obfuscating the industry to outsiders. By arming newcomers to our industry with a lexicon, we can welcome them in, and pull back the curtain for them on the, sometimes scary and intimidating, world into which they are taking their first tentative steps.

If used right, jargon can be a tool of inclusivity rather than exclusion. As digital marketing welcomes a wealth of new talent from across the spectrum in the coming years, inclusivity is something we’re going to need.

Inclusivity: Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something…


As ever, Click Consult is ready to help you on your digital marketing journey – whether with our extensive list of blogs and resources, or even if you’d just like to have a chat.

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