Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Does your use of jargon need tweaking?

One common definition for the word tweak is to make small changes in order to improve something. Back in 2008 Peggy Jordan blogged about Why Clarity Counts and mentioned an unfortunate specialized use of an acronym. An expert on short term disability insurance got into the bad habit of using the acronym STD - which most people would interpret as instead referring to a sexually transmitted disease. Another example of confusing jargon is death and dismemberment insurance, which really covers either situation rather than requiring both (like in the movie Fargo).

Tweaking has another meaning in the drug subculture:

“Methamphetamine use that goes on for day after day is called tweaking, and you really get into a very strange state. You might just sit there quietly and with all kinds of crazy ideas going through your brain. Nobody knows what’s going on. You have to deal with someone like that very carefully. They can go through repetitive activities. One of the favorite ones for people is to take things apart  - take the TV apart - take the cell phone apart - but not in any way be able to put it back together.” 

On December 15th I heard an early-morning radio interview of Erik Makrush, an education policy analyst (polite euphemism for lobbyist) at the Idaho Freedom Foundation. While discussing reform in the state he commented that:

“There’s going to be some tweaking by the legislature.”

I doubt Erik was thinking about that other meaning for tweaking, but I had a good laugh imagining those legislators. His word choice probably was influenced by one or two article headlines from the preceding day.

The image of a recording control board being tweaked came from Wikimedia Commons.

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