Every once in a while, I am reminded of my fascination with the multiple parallel universes that exist all around us, full of people who have a different world view and a different vocabulary, usually because of their profession (although, sometimes, because of their economic class or physical location). For example, I don't know if people in Boston still refer to milkshakes as frappes and soft drinks as tonic, but they did in 1970 when I arrived at MIT as a freshman. And, apparently, those born to wealth have a different definition of "struggling," as in, Ann Romney's statement that she and Mitt were struggling in school and had to sell of part of their portfolios to pay tuition.
The BBC Radio 4 panel show, Wordaholics (available on the BBC iPlayer when the show is in production), includes a segment every week during which several terms of art from a particular occupation are read out; then the panelists are invited to guess which field uses the terms. The panelists almost never guess the correct answer. The variety of trade jargon is nearly as infinite as the number of ways people make a living, or, for that matter, the number of people. I remember reading years ago that this stew of jargon was a way of excluding outsiders and of developing a sense of belonging. In education, for example, we have ELL, SST, and IEP, among about 1,000 other acronyms we are expected to now. I was put in mind of this because my daughter M has returned from the Peace Corps, as a result of which she is now an RPCV (returned Peace Corps Volunteer). A decade ago, when I was a trade reporter in the computer business, I knew all the acronyms (I still know what USB stands for: do you?), but, of course, as time goes by the vocabulary moves on while my knowledge of it grows stale. Thank goodness.