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The Use of Specialized Terms

Like many students, you may have a strong opinion about the use of specialized terms. Some students denounce this "jargon" as "the stuffy b.s. students use to impress profs." Other students defend the use of "a more efficient, more accurate language." Both of these opinions have some validity.

When these specialized terms are used by someone who isn't quite sure of their meaning or are used to address a non-expert, they can seem artificial and alienating. Yet when a knowledgeable person uses specialized terms like "dominant ideology" and "an IRQ line" with another expert, these terms are convenient shorthand for experts discussing complex concepts.

For you and your professors, the difficult question is "How should students learn to use these terms with competence and confidence?" This learning cannot happen overnight; you may have to struggle to apply these terms before you fully understand them. At first, using specialized terms may feel like bluffing, but you ultimately should feel like an expert talking with other experts.