Specialist language and communication

May 26, 1995

It is to be hoped that more than just quantum physicists heed the message of Peter Holland (THES, May 12). Physicists, engineers, computer experts, managers, in fact many professionals seem to think that obfuscation brings them greater esteem. We all have to communicate, and to do so lucidly and efficiently. Every specialist community therefore develops its own use of language for its own purposes.

However, to expect that anyone uninitiated in that community can then understand the nuances of thought and concept which words convey is to let down the hearers and diminish rather than enhance the communicator. To deliberately exploit such processes commercially gives no service to the furtherance of any worthwhile subject.

For better or worse we have an environment in which the pursuit of knowledge, which can only happen and has only happened in the past with funding in some form, has become a matter for market forces. Commercial attitudes among researchers and academics have been rightly encouraged in the support of UK Ltd, but let us hope this does not breed a denial of our integrity in the pursuit of truth.

M. J. ROBERTS

Almondsbury, Bristol

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