Feb 29 2008

Language, usefulness and exclusion

I work a lot inside of communities of one sort or another and they often have their own insider language. You know, jargon. People complain that jargon is exclusionary and it sure can be. But it is also useful short hand within a community and can convey succinctly something with specific meaning. The challenge for us is using that language either outside our communities or with intent to exclude.

But dang, it can be useful. Here is a great example from travel guru/insider Joe Brancatelli who does a lovely decoding for us outsiders. This time it is about talking to gate agents at the airport.

One example: When you don’t see your plane at the gate, don’t ask the agent if the flight is on time. Ask, “Where’s the equipment?” That will force the agent to go to the computer and find out where your aircraft is and when it will actually arrive. If the plane is already at the gate, ask, “When are we scheduled to push back?” Looking for an upgrade? Don’t blindly inquire about your chances. Ask, “How are the loads today?” The agent will tell you how many seats are empty and your number on the upgrade wait list.

What kind of insider language do you use? How do you interpret it for others?

Amazing chocolate airplane and photo by Stevepreneur on Flickr

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.
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