Jargon is power.

When I was a dance critic, in the ’70s and ’80s, my job was to translate jargon so that non-dancers would understand.

When I was a freelance reporter, during the same time period, I had to use jargon to convince big city editors to believe I knew what I was doing.

When I was a business writer, 1986 to 2006 plus, my job was to translate all kinds of business topics so that non-MBAs would understand.

It’s all about keeping it simple, says John Lanchester in an article in the current New Yorker, entitled Money Talks: Learning the language of finance.

Lessons:

Adopt the jargon of the field you want to enter. Like a patois, you are believable when — to an editor — the first thing you ask is “are you on deadline?”

Don’t accept the jargon
of the field you don’t know about. If you see it, the author is lazy.

Full disclosure: Many an editor has blue penciled my own less-than-clear copy.

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