Avoid Jargon

Here’s timely advice for Ignatian “insiders” from Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, superior general of the Jesuits.  Avoid jargon.  Speak clearly and simply.  He uses the word “discernment” as an example.  You might know what it means, but the people you’re talking to might not.  Fr. Nicolás tells some good stories in this video, from a conference about Jesuit partnership with lay people.  (Click here to watch it on YouTube.)


  1. Jargon can also be a means of deliberately erecting barriers in communication. I remember well an associate priest in a former parish who used jargon when speaking with neophytes in the R.C.I.A. He knew they wouldn’t understand what he was saying, and that was probably his intent, because he was not a good communicator, not a people person, had an overall air of superiority.
    However jargon is acceptable when everyone in a group understands, so no one is excluded, and is a means of shortening what would otherwise be unnecessary repetitive explanation on a topic. As Fr. Nicolas discusses, it must have its place or else be eradicated.
    No one likes a smartypants.

  2. Jargon assumes a tone of superiority and comes across as plain showing off. Greenhorn writers try that too in their attempts at excellence hence the term purple prose.


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