Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Jury Duty isn't a great deal of fun. But like with most things, you can learn a lot from it.

Over the past few cases I've noticed that cops and their associated law enforcement officials speak a language that's entirely their own. It's a combination of street slang for narcotics, acronyms and other threads of language that make up jargon.

It's not unusual to hear a sentence like this, "An undercover from ICE picked up the perp for a hand to hand of an 8-ball."

That means and undercover agent from Immigration Customs Enforcement picked up a perpetrator for exchanging 1/8 of an ounce of cocaine."

Most businesses, clubs, tribes, religions, even families, have their own languages, their own patois, argot or...jargon. Charitably speaking, jargon is linguistic shorthand that helps a group communicate.

It only becomes a problem when the prevalence of jargon begins to change the way you actually think. And for the purposes of our business, has a negative impact on our language of communication.

Years ago when I worked on IBM personal computers, the client insisted on saying a particular machine was "just 1-inch thin." I fought them vociferously. No one--except a jargonnaire says "1-inch thin." It's not the way people talk and rings phony and false.

I was taught by one of the best writers in the business never to use jargon, never to use a big word when a small one will do.

That's how you make the complex simple.

Which is one of the toughest, and most important, jobs in advertising.

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