What jargon really says about the speaker
New research demonstrates that high jargon use is driven by increased concern with audience evaluations over conversational clarity
“I would say that we have enough to digest in the near-term, and there’s nothing candidly in our sightline that would suggest that we’re involved in engaging anything that we’re going to acquire.”
— Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (when asked if he was planning any new acquisitions)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines jargon as “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand”. In business, every industry and company creates its own specialized glossary of terms. Learned and absorbed over time, these collections of words, phrases, and acronyms become the specialized language that signals identity and status to insiders and outsiders alike.
Though a part of everyday life, jargon is not often considered in the context of business research. This is a strange state of affairs given the ubiquitousness of specialized language in business. A new paper from Zachariah C. Brown (Columbia), Eric M. Anicich (USC), and Adam D. Galinskya (Columbia), however, provides a novel analysis of the jargon. The study provides insight into not just what jargon is but also the value it may provide in various settings.
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