Neutrinos with Syrup, Nibblers

TechSpeak: Sound impressive saying ordinary things.

When my older sister was in medical school, she taught me “MedSpeak,” which is supposedly a way to instantly sound like a doctor. I prefer to call it TechSpeak, because you can use the same technique to sound an expert about any subject, without knowing anything special about it. Okay, so it really isn’t that convincing, but it’s quite fun, and rather addictive.

In MedSpeak/TechSpeak, you simply substitute a very specialized type of two-word phrase for one-word nouns. The secret is that every term is made up of one specific descriptor ending in “-al”, followed by a more generalized category descriptor:

Ordinary SpeechTechSpeak
headcranial area
houseresidential structure
thermometerthermal indicator
computercomputational apparatus
locationdimensional assignment

Of course, it’s more fun if the first word does not really end in “-al”:
Ordinary SpeechTechSpeak
armlimbal appendage
carroadal conveyance
coffeeinvigorational fluid
smoke detectorscreamal device

Try it, have fun with it, but don’t be surprised if you can’t stop.

  • tonyola

    I am a much-better-than-average writer when it comes to engineering reports and I take pride in my output. I also recognize that most technical people are terrible writers. I've had plenty of opportunities to review and critique others' work. One of the biggest sins in my book is to use a five-dollar word where a fifty-cent word will suffice quite nicely. Now obviously some technical terms can't be avoided, but it's just too much when I see "anthropogenic" for "man-made" or "avefauna" for birds. Most of the people who receive my reports are non-engineers, and it's important that they understand just what I'm saying. When I started out as an environmental engineer, my Dad (an aeronautical engineer himself) told me to think of my first-grade reading primer and its short, declarative sentences like "See Spot. Spot is my dog. Spot has a ball. The ball is red". The same principle should be used in reports, though obviously not quite so simplistic. When I see overly technical language in a report, it often signals to me that the writer is either trying to hide something or has nothing useful to say.

    Dad also told me that if I learned how to write well, I would never have much trouble finding an engineering job. You know what? He was right. One of the first questions that interviewers ask is whether I can write. When I say yes, I can almost see something click in their faces. Good advice, Dad.

    • OA5599

      A couple of years ago, I was invited by Ford to a preview of the Raptor prototype after it was greenlighted but before it went into production. Ford had flown in the lead SVT engineer on the project.

      My son told the SVT guy he pretty much had one of the coolest jobs in the world, and asked for career advice in landing a similar position for himself. Mr. Raptor replied something along the lines of "There are a zillion engineers that can design, but only a few that can also write. Develop strong communication skills."

      My son seems to be doing just that.

      • tonyola

        Good move on your son's part. Perhaps you ought to let him read my previous posting as backup for what the SVT engineer told him.

  • chrystlubitshi

    my brothers and I have always enjoyed making up our own medical/tech-speak. Example being any type of neck/shoulder injury must include the words "neckal-region" in the same one that one might say "chestal region"…. it extends to backal, armal, leg-al, and crotchal regions…that is the way that doctors refer to things…. right?

    • You got it. This is the exact same thing, just extended to include more than just regions. For example, your crotchal region can really smart from a groinal impact from a spousal organism.

      • chrystlubitshi

        multiple-skin-contusions are never pleasant… but a spousal-induced impact tends to injure the most sensitive of regions…

  • PrawoJazdy

    I live with a Medical Assistant. She's my girl and I love her to itsy bitsy pieces, but it annoys the hell out of me when I say something like "my knee hurts" she gets all uppity then calls it a patella [sic].

  • Number_Six

    Eschew obfuscation.

    • The Professor

      Yes, that is normally the correct thing to do. However, there are times when writing in the most impenetrable manner becomes an absolute boon. That occasion is when I write my budget proposals. I found that the less the administrators understand about why I want the money, the more likely I am to receive it. You see, they don't want to appear to be the idiots that they are, and are easily manipulated. Usually. Sometimes spite will overcome their natural tendencies.

  • The Professor

    Nice going Tanshanomi. Way to tip everyone off. Now I'll have to start putting some actual content into my writing here, rather than just blithering tech-speak into the aether. Bah!

    /(Nice article though)

  • Lotte

    iPod > Soundal Device > Portable soundal device > Portable mechanical-wave oscillational device > Portable precision-calibrated mechanical-wave oscillational device. Oh, yeah!…

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Now you are just going back and forth in the English/German google translator, right?

  • SSurfer321

    Richard Cranium

  • Alff

    Long-toed – Leptodactylic
    A**hole – Basal fundament aperture