Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Tue Nov 30 18:51:06 UTC 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Arnold Zwicky
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: cables

On Nov 29, 2010, at 10:22 PM, David Bowie wrote:
>> From:    Ronald Butters<ronbutters at AOL.COM>
>>> I feel certain that CABLE has had the jargon meaning 'confidential
>>> international communications between government agencies' for a very
>>> long time....
>> I can attest to 'cable' having that meaning in regular use among
>> nonspecialists (it would come up in local news stories about spy cases,
>> for example) while i was growing up in the DC area in the 70s and 80s,
>> by which time the cablegram-specificness of it was already outdated.
>> Given its longstanding use by nonspecialists, though, we may need some
>> sort of intermediate label for something like this that lies somewhere
>> between jargon and non-jargon.

>i've been calling items that have partially leaked from specialist use into
more general use "semi-technical >terms".

Does "jargon" have to be exclusively understood and used by the specialists?
I would say this use of "cable" is still jargon. The use is still confined
to diplomatic contexts. Just because newspapers use the word doesn't make it
stop being jargon.

Now if "cable" started to be used more widely, in non-diplomatic contexts,
then I would say that it would have ceased being jargon.

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