Every profession has its own language

Published 8:44 am Friday, September 18, 2009

As a horsewoman, I&dquo;ve been aware for quite some time that my profession is riddled with jargon. When a horse is well-balanced and moving straight beneath his rider, we say he is &dquo;loading evenly behind&dquo; and is therefore &dquo;connected&dquo; and &dquo;working through his back.&dquo; I&dquo;ll stop there because I know only too well the glazed look of boredom in a non-horsey person&squo;s expression when one waxes on enthusiastically about how well one&squo;s ride went when asked. Sort of like giving a complete, detailed, description of a colonoscopy when casually approached in the grocery store with, &dquo;so, how are you?&dquo;What I didn&dquo;t know was that, evidently, each and every profession also has its own collection of language used by its members. Not too long ago, a nurse told me in an exasperated fashion that she had to work an additional two hours on top of her 12-hour shift because just as she was about to leave one patient began &dquo;circling the drain.&dquo; It is a dire description and I have never felt it was meant to be used in an unfeeling or hurtful way but, rather, to succinctly describe a life-threatening condition with a touch of levity thrown in. The same sort of levity that someone else in the medical field used when referring to confused patients that get up in the wee hours to wander the halls of the hospital as &dquo;Nightcrawlers.&dquo;And jargon is certainly not exclusive to those in medicine. A mechanic, in denial that there was anything wrong with my car, despite my best attempts to recreate the noise I heard whenever I turned left, informed me that, in his opinion, the problem was &dquo;a loose nut behind the wheel.&dquo;I was so appallingly gullible that I replied, &dquo;Really? Do you think you can fix it?&dquo;Who would believe that schoolteachers, both past and present, the epitome of professionalism and devotion, have also been known to scribble down notes to stop themselves from going crazy from the stress of teaching over-crowded classes with budgets that have been slashed?&bsp; Generally, these jots are not visible to the eyes of parents~ indeed it&squo;s usually a warning to another teacher who&squo;s about to inherit a trouble-maker or, an &dquo;SK&dquo;, i.e., &dquo;squirrelly kid.&dquo; I find no offense or disrespect from any of these terms. Instead I applaud the colorful use of language to deal with the daily frustrations a job can deliver. It&squo;s healthier than leaving skid marks to get to the local &dquo;happy hour&dquo; at 5:01 p.m. and nothing s more intimate than being cozily accepted within a group who routinely uses an &dquo;inside joke.&dquo;However, if you feel otherwise, fair warning: you may very well be viewed as a PITA.

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