Obfuscatory Jargon

Mitch Hobish Growth, Innovation, Leadership, Productivity

As a practitioner of several arcane technical and scientific arts, I do my share of using jargon; indeed, I often appreciate hyperpolysyllabicsesquipedalianism. In the proper setting, precise terminology conveys something very specific to my audiences, so I understand how useful such jargon can be.

confusionI have to scratch my head, however, when I come across such terms as “controlled flight into terrain”, meaning the airplane crashed. I mean, if the aircraft were under control, why would anyone fly it into the ground (or, as a pilot friend of mine has called it, “cumulogranite”)?

Another one that crossed my ken recently had to do with an engine in a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle that experienced “rapid unscheduled disassembly“, i.e., it exploded. This is clearly distinct from a “slower scheduled disassembly” (whatever that may be), but what is gained by using the “term-of-art” phrase rather than the simpler single word?

I just don’t get it.

Questions: What jargon do you use routinely? Do you use it appropriately? What consequences might there by owing to misunderstanding arising from use? What can you do to communicate more clearly?