Avoid Jargon!

Because I’m always looking for examples for this blog, I signed up with Google to receive a daily email with links to police reports in the news.

Today Google sent me six links – a bonanza! I’m going to post excerpts from two of them. See if you can spot what bothered me about them:

Advises she cannot see anyone but possibly believes one subject left in a vehicle. Arrest made. Report taken.

Caller on Clinton St. reports stray dog attacked their pet dog and injured its face. Advises stray is locked in their garage at this time. 

Here it is: the word advises. It’s police jargon that makes reports sound weird to anyone outside the criminal justice field. I don’t “advise” a waiter that I want spaghetti: I tell him. That’s normal English, and it’s the word you should use in your police reports.

Reserve advise for situations when there’s actual advice. Here’s a sentence that really does contain advice:

The post office advises everyone to do their holiday shipping early.  CORRECT 

Note that advise does not mean “tell.” Said or told is a better choice:

Jim told me that he’ll pick up the dry cleaning on his way home.  CORRECT 

Happily, one of the links in today’s police report email had a jargon-free sentence:

Chinese police report 14 children have been injured in an attack by a knife-wielding assailant at a kindergarten in the western city of Chongqing.  CORRECT

Are you ever guilty of jargon? If so, are you working on breaking your jargon habit? I sincerely hope so!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *