Where that (scientifical/business) jargon, much of it, came from

“They did develop distinctive, pseudo-scientific language to pitch themselves to clients…”, explains Emma Green as she rough-sketches a history of modern business jargon, in The Atlantic. (Thanks to Mariette DiChristina for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: The Jargon Opera premiered as part of the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The opera concludes with the song “Harmonious Misunderstanding”. Here are the lyrics to that song:

[MUSIC: Arne's "Rule, Britannia"]

They say that better understanding
Would… make us thrive.
But if we knew what others truly want,
We might not wish them to stay alive.
Mis-under-standing may be the thing
That lets us survive.
True understanding… turns people rather shrill.
It really, really, really, makes them want to kill!

[CHORUS:]
Hail to jargon!
‘Tis so eu-pho-ni-ous!
Jar-gon makes misunderstanding harmo’nious!

The Mid-East hag-gl-ing for peace is
Go-ing to fail
‘Till open, clear communication ceases,
As at Harvard, or even Yale.
The trick to dick-er-ing is to fudge on ev’ry detail.
Mis-under-standing… that’s mutu’lly assured
Some-how lets any major diff’rence be endured.

[CHORUS:]
Hail to jargon!
‘Tis so eu-pho-ni-ous!
Jar-gon makes misunderstanding harmo’nious!

The his-to-ry of every nation
Hither and yon,
Is basic’ly a simple compilation
Of how babble defeated brawn.
All armies get exhausted, but jargon just jabbers on.
Jargon is better… than anything around.
It makes your en-e-my suspect his mind’s unsound.


[CHORUS:]
Hail to jargon!
‘Tis so eu-pho-ni-ous!
Jar-gon makes misunderstanding harmo’nious!

The Klingons often fired a phaser
At Captain Kirk.
But Kirk was such a powerful re-phraser
His words made all of them berserk.
The Klingons always fled because they thought, “He’s such a jerk.”
Jargon is better… than anything in space.
It tri-umphs over a con-vention-al arms race.

[CHORUS:]
Hail to jargon!
‘Tis so eu-pho-ni-ous!
Jar-gon makes misunderstanding harmo’nious!

Harmo-ni-ous misunderstanding –
That’s what we need.
Our leaders must use jargon in demanding
We pretend they know how to lead.
Our children must learn jargon before we teach them to read.
True understanding… makes people rather ill –
They’d really, really, really, rather lis-ten to swill!

[CHORUS:]
Hail to jargon!
‘Tis so eu-pho-ni-ous!
Jar-gon makes misunderstanding harmo’nious!

[CHORUS:]
Hail to jargon!
‘Tis so eu-pho-ni-ous!
Jar-gon makes misunderstanding harmo’nious!!

This video shows a spirited, very British performance of the song “Rule Britannia” with its original words. You might enjoy playing the recording whilst you yourself sing the new lyrics at your highest volume:

BONUS: Here’s video of the entire 2002 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. This video begins with the special pre-ceremony concert by the Dresden Dolls:

(The song “Harmonious Misunderstanding” was performed near the end of the ceremony, at about the 1:20 mark in the video.)