While studying to be an anthropologist, I worked with professors and other students whose skills included a remarkable ability to “expatiate” on a subject – expand upon the topic with a large amount of jargon. This might have been necessary within the professional community, but it wasn’t a great way to communicate with people without graduate degrees in the subject.
In my first job as a practicing anthropologist, I discovered that my skills in writing everyday English had grown rusty in grad school. Luckily, one senior staff member had a plan to cover this. She handed me a little pamphlet on writing press releases. Every day I wrote a release on a fictional program of the sort I was planning. She edited the drafts.
It was not a fun experience. I accused her of wanting me to get in lockstep with the pamphlet, even if the advice did not apply. She responded, aridly, that lockstep would improve my style.

Gradually it dawned on me that her real goal was to have me do two things: cut out my endless use of jargon and learn to use simple declarative sentences.

While we never became buddies, her lessons in writing press releases proved influential in dozens of other ways and helped pave the path to success.

Do I still like jargon? Would you like me to expatiate upon that subject?


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