Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Technobabble (a portmanteau of technology and babble) is language so full of technical terms or jargon and buzzwords that it is incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the words being used. While what is said is clearly heard, what it means is not. To some it sounds like random technical words have been strung together in a syntatically correct and consistent but semantically meaningless way. It is often considered to be meaningless or irrelevant nonsense by those who hear it.
Authors and others who wish to convey a feeling of technical sophistication may write or talk in technobabble. They may use the jargon without considering what it actually means in order to give an impression that they know things that their readers or listeners do not. However, if the jargon is decoded it becomes apparent that the originator does not really understand what has been said or is deliberately being unclear. When used in this way, technobabble is considered pretentious and often unacceptable.
The military, the sciences, mathematics, engineering, law, medicine, information technology and marketing all have their own distinct forms of technobabble, as the jargon from one field cannot be readily mixed with that of another. If used inappropriately even novice listeners can often detect that nonsense is being spouted forth.
A specialised form known as Treknobabble can be found in the various Star Trek television programs and movies. Other science fiction movies and literature have their own form of technobabble. This is often done because the concepts and items being talked about are fictional but necessary for the story. This form of technobabble is generally tolerable and often considered amusing.
However, technobabble sometimes may also communicate meaningful technical information between those who understand what is being talked about. The jargon carries meaning and can be used to convey accurate and precise information effectively. In some situations, such as medicine, this usage can be lifesaving.
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