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

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

Cc Brian Kenny

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
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
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
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,
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.


From: Mike Berry,
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
To: "Mike Berry"
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 

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

I've been sharing with Dennis, my husband, all the
jargon stuff.  This is his response:

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!