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To what extent, if any, do lingo and jargon differ?

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4 Answers 4

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I’d use lingo to characterize a style of speaking, characterized by words both newly-minted and appropriated for a specific meaning. For example, using drag to mean boring or tedious, bread to mean money, or man as a form of address all contribute to the lingo of counterculture in the 60s.

Jargon refers to a technical vocabulary that is shorthand for complex or elaborate concepts and practices. In technology, for example, it’s often characterized by acronyms and other terms coined by inventors and innovators. In law, medical practice, and academic research, it’s a combination of terms and concepts owed to history that are often anchored to their language of origin.

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Lingo is simply a language or dialect used by a specific group of people.

Jargon implies that the language is limited to a specific profession or other group and that others find it difficult to undersand.

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Lingo is also another term for jargon, both in American and British English. –  kiamlaluno Apr 9 '11 at 18:14
    
@Kiamlaluno, while you are right to say that Lingo can mean the same as Jargon, I agree with @Snumpy on the more common usage of the two terms. –  Karl Apr 10 '11 at 0:51
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@Karl @kiamlaluno Lingo can be used in place of Jargon, but not always the other way around. "We visited Spain but we didn't understand the Jargon," would not be acceptable (unless you attended a Spanish conference on a technical matter and their terminology (Jargon) was different.) –  trideceth12 Apr 10 '11 at 8:49
    
@trideceth12 That is well understood. I was referring to the fact lingo is defined in terms of jargo, not vice versa. The second definition you should find in a dictionary is "the vocabulary or jargon of a particular subject or group of people." –  kiamlaluno Apr 10 '11 at 10:45

Lingo is another word for jargon, but also a slang term for human language as well (at least in BE).

We visited Spain but didn't speak the lingo.

This example uses "lingo" to mean "language".

Working in J2EE is simple once you understand the lingo.

This example uses "lingo" to mean "jargon".

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The usage of lingo to mean (often humorously) a foreign language is reported also from the NOAD. –  kiamlaluno Apr 9 '11 at 18:12
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I would say foreign language is the most common use in BE, it has slight racist tones = "no-speak-a-de-lingo" from older comedy acts. –  mgb Apr 9 '11 at 18:15

For starters, lingo has racist and colonialist overtones, unlike jargon. Lingo is informal, unlike jargon. Basically, never use it unless you want to convey that you care nothing for the socially appropriate use of language, and possibly offend any speakers of the mode of speech you are labelling as "lingo".

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