Have you ever walked in on a huddle of gaming geeks only to overhear some suspicious snippet of conversation that includes references to RPG elements, snipers and armies of bejeweled dragons? This kind of group-bound lingo is referred to as jargon and defined as ?a vocabulary peculiar to a particular trade, profession or group?. With technology developing at a lightning fast pace, new branches and varieties of shoptalk are cropping up every day, but this doesn?t mean that it gets any less confusing.
Ask me to describe the rental vehicle I saw and the best answer you?ll get is something along the lines of ?blue with silver bits along the edges?. Ask my partner and he?ll launch into a speech praising the long term rental vehicle?s AWD, DOHC and aftermarket additions. Instead of remaining ignorant as to the meaning of these mystifying acronyms, I set out to learn a bit about motoring lingo. Here is what I discovered.
Firstly, the scope of car rental jargon is so broad and varied that one could possibly write a dissertation declaring it to be a whole separate language and get away with it. One of the websites I stumbled across in my search for clarification had alphabetized lists that made for easy searching, but by the time I got to the 30th listing for a motoring acronym starting with ?A? I was about ready to throw in the towel. However, I now know that ABC stands for Active Body Control (a Mercedes programme of active suspension that almost eliminates body roll when cornering) as well as American Broadcasting Corporation, American Ballet Company and the modest alphabet.
Jargon has been around since biblical times. The term ?shibboleth? is generally taken to mean a practice that is indicative of a particular class or set of persons, but actually means ?stream or torrent?. After the inhabitants of Gilead inflicted a military defeat upon the tribe of Ephraim in 1070 BC, they used this term to detect fleeing Ephraimites, who could not pronounce the sound sh.
Examples of shibboleths being used to establish hiding members of opposing groups is also found in more current history. United States soldiers stationed in the Pacific during the Second World War employed the term ?lollapalooza? to verbally test people who were unidentified. This was particularly effective as Japanese speakers often mispronounce the letter L as R and the word (meaning ?an extraordinary or unusual thing?) is a peculiar colloquial term not commonly known outside of the United States.
Jargon may have started out as ?shorthand? for terms regularly discussed between members of a group and in time developed into a shibboleth to distinguish those who belong to a group from those who do not. On the one hand jargon can be seen as pedantic, elitist and ?nerdy?, while others might argue that nautical and medical terms allow professionals to communicate effectively in situations where ordinary language would take too long.
I came to the following conclusion. Whichever way you look at it, there is no sense in trying to learn jargon. You either know it or you don?t; and if you don?t yet pretend that you do you are going to end up looking like a fool. Going about long term car rental agencies in South Africa throwing around technical terms I will come across as being as blonde as I am. So, it would seem I am forever doomed to describe my rental cars in terms or general shape and colour. I have a few acronyms of my own though ? GHD, PMS and N.O. Try those on for size?