Friday, December 7, 2012

Biz Writing - When Do We Jargonize?

Generally, in business writing, it is advisable to avoid the unnecessary use of jargon. For example, it is perfectly alright for a doctor to call up a pharmacist to send some sidenafil over to his clinic. But a patient from a non-medical background who is suffering from a flagging libido would only be nonplussed if the doctor tells him that he needs a prescription of  sidenafil instead of the famous brand name, Viagra.

Back in 2001, I took my children to Bangalore, India. On the very first night, both of them came down with fever and vomiting. I took a cab to a private hospital and went straight to the dispensary. The pharmacist who attended to me looked puzzled when I asked him for some Panadol. Then he asked me what it was for. After my explanation, he said what I needed was paracetamol. It was then that I realized that Panadol is the brand name used in Malaysia, but in India, paracetamol is sold under a different brand name. In this instance, I knew what paracetamol was, and there was no information gap between us. The message wasn't lost.

In business writing, it's always important to understand your audience. if you know that your readers are technical people, by all means shoot your jargon at them. In most situations, your readers are likely to comprise both technical and non-technical people. And bear in mind that the person who decides whether to give your company the job or not may be a non-technical person. So, if you have to use jargon in your writing, you can include footnotes or a glossary to explain the jargon used.