Harrison-Mim, Non-Fiction, Random fact

#694 Words at Work by Mim Harrison

Words at Work by Mim HarrisonWords at Work by Mim Harrison

Mim bets you have words that mean something only to people in your profession, or mean something different to people in your profession. Whether you’re a stock broker or a pharmacist, Mim knows that there are words that are just special to you and your colleagues.

Mim begins the book with a quiz in which you should match a list of words with definitions. Then Mim dives into dissecting words that mean something completely different to people of certain professions.

Mim spotlights the restaurant world, the retail world, airline pilots, cookie companies, pharmacists, television ad producers, the hotel world, printers(the profession and people, not the machines), symphony orchestra musicians, venture capitalists, waste managers, perfume makers, Broadway company managers, microbiologists, and magicians. Each spotlighted group has its own chapter. In each chapter is a list of words and their definitions and how and why the words are used in the manner that they are. Sometimes, Mim even includes the history of the usage if she knows it.

What I liked

I like words, so this is great. I love learning about why people use the words that they do. I like comparing words that are similar from one language to the next.

These words are actually called jargon. Jargon is a weird word meaning language and words that you use in a certain profession. I work in the IT world, I use a lot of IT words that may not mean anything to someone who works at Wal-mart. I can certainly go to Wal-mart and tell the cashier that I have to hurry because I have to go to work and write queries on my SQL server and set up an automated report and then format it using ASP.Net and, after that, I have to go run some Cat 5e cable, then fish it down a wall, then terminate the ends and test it out and then plug thin client terminals into it. Is the cashier going to understand any of that? Probably not, but it all makes sense to me. You’re not supposed to use jargon when you’re talking to people who don’t know what the jargon means. It’s rude. It’s just about the same as going up to a person and speaking Spanish to them and expecting them to follow along when they only speak Swedish.

It was interesting to read all of these words and see how people in certain professions define them.

What I didn’t like

This is a type of book I like to call a “random fact book.” There’s not really a story to it. It’s broken down into sections that are related and the reader is given random facts. I like these books as a rule, but they aren’t necessarily read-straight-through material.


Let’s eighty-six this review.

Weigh In

What’s your favorite word that you use at work? It can’t be the F-word.

Is jargon a fair concept?


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