Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
I remember walking into a Tim Horton’s in the U.S. one time and asking for a large double-double and the lady behind the counter saying to me, “You’re from Canada aren’t you?”
You see, up here in Canada, we have a coffee-franchise known as Tim Horton’s which in recent years has pushed south into the U.S.
Tim Hortons, or Timmy’s as we affectionately refer to it up here, is far and away the biggest coffee franchise in Canada (they control something like 75% of the coffee-drinking market up here from what I can gather on the net).
What struck me about the exchange above though, is the fact that I presumed that I could take my Canadian Timmy’s jargon into a Tim Horton’s in the States and that they would understand me. Obviously, I was wrong.
How often do we do this with our work? As a guy with a background in computer programming, I know what it’s like to have a large vocabulary of terms, phrases and acronyms that the general public won’t understand, but when you are steeped in that language on a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to forget that the people you are communicating to don’t get it.
What terms or phrases do you use in your area of expertise that when you stop and think about it, not many people would understand without clarification? I’d love to hear some!