Message #190 From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Date: Sat, 13 Jun 1998 12:26:42 Subject: Collaborative Dictionary of Contemporary Southwestern Archaeological Jargon [ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ]: From: Lynne Attardi LTATucson@aol.com Remember the email last year re the vocabulary of the papers at Pecos being difficult? Do you think this August, putting sort of a dictionary in that issue of AAHS Glyphs might be helpful? This is the issue that goes to the conference. I've been tossing it around in my head for a week or so, and don't know if it's worth it. Perhaps knowing what the papers will be will help; you know, or even the exact words being used in their papers directly from the authors ahead of time. We have no lecture text in August because of the conference, so I could use a few pages worth of this with some text explaining the complaints. SASIG Ed. Reply -- Lynne -- At the most recent Flagstaff Pecos Conference, it was my SWA partner, Matthias Giessler, whom suggested that he knew everyone was speaking English but he hadn't a clue about what they were discussing (too much jargon). My witty spouse then chimed in with... "typical of the Pecos Conference -- Too many Doctors and not enough Indians." (LOL) Their comments suggest that professionals should engage in jargon-reduced communications! Let's ask SASIG Members to contact us via e-mail withing the next week (or so...) to provide their keywords and definitions that may show up in Pecos Conference papers and other Southwestern communications. It might be fun to see what kind of SW archaeology jargon dictionary develops. AAHS can publish it in AAHS GLYPHS and SWA can post it on a web page. So there it is -- a collaborative project! SASIG Members please e-mail Lynne Attardi LTATucson@aol.com Cc Brian Kenny firstname.lastname@example.org Send your SW jargon and definitions! Lynne and I will figure out a format for the "Collaborative Dictionary of Contemporary Southwestern Archaeological Jargon." From: Jay Sharp email@example.com Date: Sat, 13 Jun 1998 19:34:23 I have a suggestion for how to cure jargonitis. Place a LARGE can in front of the speaker's microphone, and every time one of the speakers uses jargonspeak without giving a good, clear definition of the meaning, he or she will be required to put a quarter in the can. A panel of judges (not archaeologists) will be enlisted to tally up the offenses and determine the number of quarters each speaker owes at the end of his/her presentation. At the end of the conference, use the proceeds to finance kegs of beer for the attendees. I've always felt that, in an event like the Pecos Conference, the chefs should cook for the diners, not for the other chefs. From: Mike Berry firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 00:16:09 All professions come wrapped with jargon, acronyms, slang, etc. Those who wish to participate need to learn the lingo. Pecos does not come equipped with translation services. SASIG Ed. Note -- Mike Berry has a good point, the intent of the Pecos Conference has always been to bring together Southwestern Archaeologists. This is a circumscribed group. The dust cover of Woodbury's book about the Pecos Conference reads... "Its history reflects the development of archaeological aims and theories, of major federal programs, and of mitigation and contract archaeology... this unique neeting... continues to bind Southwestern Archaeologists together yearly in dynamic and vigorous dialogue." However, Archaeologists serve the public and use a lot of federal money and legal authority to do so. Not surprisingly, the conference has evolved to include hundreds of people who come to be with professional archaeologists and to listen to the things they have to say. Thus, the fight is not against jargon per se, but for serving professional archaeologists AND the public -- greater public participation is one aim of the federal policy supporting much of our professional archaeological research. "Ability to speak technical jargon = competence" may be a great formula in some regards (?), but it can have disastrous consequences when strictly applied. Whether the Pecos Conference has evolved for better or for worse, speaking clearly is still an admirable goal. From: Tom Baker email@example.com Date: Sun, 14 Jun 98 22:05:43 Edgar Hewitt, one of the founders of Southwestern archaeology, was a firm believer in jargon-free archaeological communications. He said (as close as I can get it from memory): "The public pays for archaeology, and in return it deserves to hear what we have to say in plain language." It doesn't take that much more effort to write or speak plainly, whether to the public or to colleagues. I say cut the garbage. Jargon is the last refuge of small minds. What constitutes jargon? Jargon is the DELIBERATE obfuscation of language in a misguided attempt to sound sophisticated, as, for example, in the reference (by Alan Shalette), in a recent message to SWA, to "temporal diagnostic" being used in place of "time marker." I should have said: jargon is the last refuge of small ideas. And therein may lie a clue to its proliferation in archaeology: too many people with nothing much to say, but desperate to say it. If you still don't understand what jargon is, or why people use it, try reading any of Edwin Newman's highly entertaining sendups of professional, government, and scientific jargon in his books, Strictly Speaking, or A Civil Tongue. Heaven help us when the use of good English becomes merely "politically correct." Tom Baker Aerial Archaeology Mike Berry, firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Tom, what constitutes jargon? If we use words like epistemolgy, are we guilty of jargon abuse? How about concepts like punctuated equilibria? What exactly is your objection? Are we contrained to keep the vocabulary at a high school level in order to be politically correct? I no longer function as a professional archeologist. I am now a computer professial. Believe me, jargon is a viable means of communication in any endeavor. If you want to play, learn the lingo. Simple. [gap?] From: Mike Berry, firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com I give up Tom. You apparently don't think much of your peer group. You also fail to understand that not all concepts can be conveyed with single syllable words. That's why new items get added to the lexicon of specialized disciplines. From: Tom firstname.lastname@example.org To: "Mike Berry" email@example.com Who said anything about single syllable words? Good English encompasses words of any size, if they're legitimate words and appropriately used. You are absolutely right; I do hold jargoneers in extremely low esteem, whether in archaeology or any other field. I think you have been defending the third definition of jargon in the dictionary definition below (American Heritage, 3rd Edition, 1992). I've been condemning the first. Have we been talking past each other? jargon (jär´gen) noun 1. Nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk. 2. A hybrid language or dialect; a pidgin. 3. The specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group. Jargon in the third sense can be a useful time-saver when engaged in between consenting adults, in private. If this is all you've been trying to get across, we are in agreement. Anytime the public may be involved, however, such as at a public conference, they (the public) are entitled to read and hear all communication in plain English. Below are a couple of quotes from the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations that pretty much say it all. In the second one, substitute "anthrobabble" for "psychobabble:" 1. "Jargon is the verbal sleight of hand that makes the old hat seem newly fashionable; it gives an air of novelty and specious profundity to ideas that, if stated directly, would seem superficial, stale, frivolous, or false. The line between serious and spurious scholarship is an easy one to blur, with jargon on your side." David Lehman (b. 1948), U.S. poet, editor, critic. Signs of the Times, ch. 3, "Archie Debunking" (1991). 2. "Psychobabble is . . . a set of repetitive verbal formalities that kills off the very spontaneity, candor, and understanding it pretends to promote. It's an idiom that reduces psychological insight to a collection of standardized observations, that provides a frozen lexicon to deal with an infinite variety of problems." Richard Dean Rosen (b. 1949), U.S. journalist, critic. Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling, "Psychobabble" (1977). From: Allen Dart firstname.lastname@example.org Old Pueblo Archaeology Center has put together a Glossary of Archaeological Terminology (131k PDF File) Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 15:32:28 From: J.J. Brody On "diagnostic" Re "temporal diagnostic" as jargon. It ain't. According to my Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, as a noun the word diagnostic is defined as: "that by which anything is known; a symptom." "Diagnostics" can be more problematical but in terms of late 20th century linguistic drift in the United States, it too is perfectly acceptable. I think the term jargon is being confused with notions of what is or is not "proper" English. Which has a hell of a lot more to do with social attitude than with ease of communication. Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 20:17:56 From: LTATucson@aol.com I've been sharing with Dennis, my husband, all the jargon stuff. This is his response: From: Denn@aol.com Dennis Lane, Technical Instructor Dear Jay and Mike, The true measure of intelligent discourse is the ability of the speaker to adjust his vocabulary to the listener. Speech is the ability to communicate ideas using the spoken word. If the word spoken is not understood by the listener, communication does not occur. Next we discuss the objectives of the people involved. The listener nearly always listens to learn; the speaker, however, may have mixed agendas. He may be attempting to teach, but at the same time he may be trying to do so in a manner that enhances his own self-image. Jargon is absolutely appropriate when your audience can reasonably be expected to understand the jargon, such as when addressing strictly peers in a profession. It saves time and also may help cement the feelings of brotherhood among the group. When your audience includes others, however, the use of jargon should be minimized. So both of you are ight, within your own frames of reference. Jay says, "The public is here. Use language which is universally understood." Mike says, "This is a forum for professionals. If others wish to attend, it is incumbent upon them to learn the jargon." And Lynne is saying, Let's help the "others" by providing them with a dictionary. So do it!