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Jargon is a type of language that is used in a particular context and may not be well understood outside of it. The context is usually a particular occupation (that is, a certain trade, profession, or academic field), but any ingroup can have jargon. The main trait that distinguishes jargon from the rest of a language is special vocabulary—including some words specific to it and, often, narrower senses of words that outgroups would tend to take in a broader sense. Jargon is thus "the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group".<ref name=m-w>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Most jargon is technical terminology,<ref name="Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> involving terms of art<ref name="Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law"/> or industry terms, with particular meaning within a specific industry. A main driving force in the creation of technical jargon is precision and efficiency of communication when a discussion must easily range from general themes to specific, finely differentiated details without circumlocution. A side effect of this is a higher threshold for comprehensibility, which is usually accepted as a trade-off but is sometimes even used as a means of social exclusion (reinforcing ingroup-outgroup barriers) or social aspiration (when intended as a way of showing off).

The philosopher Étienne Bonnot de Condillac observed in 1782 that "every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas". As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment, he continued: "It seems that one ought to begin by composing this language, but people begin by speaking and writing, and the language remains to be composed."<ref>Quoted by Fernand Braudel, in discussing the origins of capital, capitalism, in The Wheels of Commerce, vol. II of Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Century, 1979:234. Originally found in Condillac's work Le Commerce et le gouvernement considérés relativement l'un à l'autre (1776).</ref>

Various kinds of language peculiar to ingroups can be named across a semantic field. Slang can be either culture-wide or known only within a certain group or subculture. Argot is slang and jargon purposely used to obscure meaning to outsiders. Conversely, a lingua franca is used for the opposite effect, helping communicators to overcome unintelligibility, as are pidgins and creole languages. For example, the Chinook Jargon was a pidgin. Although technical jargon's primary purpose is to aid technical communication, not to exclude outsiders by serving as an argot, it can have both effects at once and can provide a technical ingroup with shibboleths. For example, medieval guilds could use this as one means of informal protectionism. On the other hand, jargon that once was obscure outside a small ingroup can become generally known over time. For example, the terms bit, byte, and hexadecimal (which are terms from computing jargon<ref name="CB">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>) are now recognized by many people outside computer science.


Jargon sections
Intro  Etymology  Industry term  Accessibility issues  Examples  See also  Notes  Further reading  External links  

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