Several years ago, when our son came home from his brainiac college, we picked him up from the airport and he talked about his life at his school.
His face lit up. “Mom, it’s the only place where you’ll be at a party and everyone will get in his heated discussion about integers. Can you believe it?”
Yes. My son had found his nitch.
Then he launched into descriptions of ideas, discussions, and projects he worked on. I froze. I swear I saw his mouth move. Words flew out of it. But what were they? I didn’t recognize one of them, save for a preposition or a verb now and then. But what about the rest of them?
What had happened to my son? He had come back with a whole new vocabulary. Nerd-smart-math and science buzz words. Jargon. And even real words that I’d never learn unless I took Advanced ThermoDynamics Calculus Applied Mathematics 999.
How could I begin to ask him questions? I was too far behind in his dialogue now to begin. So I just smiled and nodded and read his body language. He was happy and content; that’s all I really cared about.
Fortunately, my engineer math-minded husband was in the car too, so I could pump him for information once we were alone.
When the time came, I drew Bob aside. “So what was Tofer talking about on the way home?”
“You mean that story?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Did you understand any of it?”
My husband smiled and shook his head. “Not a word.”
1. Create a character with a passion or a specific career. Research that passion or career. What specific vocabulary and jargon go with that subject? Write a scene where your character interacts with others in that field. Or it could be funny where the character interacts with people NOT in her field, as what happened with my husband and me and my son. ( A fish-out-of-water experience.)
2. What are the buzz words specific to your field? How did you learn about them?
3. Create a story where a character pretends to be someone she or he isn’t. She/he has to fake her way through a career or hobby, but doesn’t know the buzz words. What happens?