Just today, I spoke out against technical speech and communication. That it was not a common language between people and could be offputting or open to any level of regular misunderstanding. That was in the context of “b to b” (“business to business,” for those as uninitiated as I was when I woke up today) sales. And now, in an even less stringent sense, I come bearing the flag of “technical language,” a couple shades of gray and maybe some caricatures of gears and circuits included.
I also bring up this topic today, in particular, in the wake of guest writer Nick Dashing’s recent piece on pro wrestling lingo and the applications in general life and media. My topic is just a bit less organized and a more general sense. And it’s talking about a different thing entirely. “Technical language” isn’t a random glossary of vocab words you find tattooed on the cartoonishly large traps of some pro wrestler.
I’m sticking with this title. It’s the note that I made on my phone when thinking about writing on this topic. It’s partially artistic decision and retroactive example of how I write and express myself. The ultimate cycle of synonyms, alternatives, and never being able to find the word that I actually want.
And the body…
A technical paper or lab report consists of a pretty set list of sections: Abstract, Nomenclature, Introduction, Experimental Apparatus and Procedure, Theoretical Analysis, Experimental Results and Discussion, Conclusion, and References. There are variations, sure, but this is what I use, and it’s good.
Notice how every part of the setup is aimed at making everything as clear as possible. There’s a synopsis that tells you what you’re getting into beforehand, a list of terms, relevant supporting scientific theory, and a conclusion outlining the author’s interests by ways of the results’ implications. Scientific experiments are meant to be repeatable, and this is nothing if not repeatable.
But technical language describes not just the intent of things said, as you can figure from each different section of the sample technical paper outline. It’s also how things are said.
There are words like “significant” and “considerable,” “enough,” “a lot,” etc. that either refer to some specific statistical property (the former) or that mean nothing without an extended host of qualifiers (the latter). Technical language uses words like these correctly according to discipline or avoids using them altogether.
But how is this useful to everyday conversation? The talk where we call every third person “literally” a “cuck.” Well, first we could… not do that. But that’s boring. Technical language is good for communication, though. For that one time in the week that we actually want to get some sentiment across clearly. That. But not to the extent where we’re analytic philosophers.
Suppose we talk in terms of discussions and implications and based on certain premises (that theoretical analysis section). As opposed to talking about a political opinion you heard and why it sucks for reasons other than what I might assume. Or, you could just not mention it because it probably doesn’t have a useful conclusion. (It’s politics. What do you expect?) Yes, I’ll stay that general. This isn’t, like, a technical paper. Deal with it.
So, think about it. Think about talking with intent. Bye bye !