Is it Just Me or the Jargon?
Ham radio has a long tradition of “jargon” and operating procedures which probably grew out of the early CW operating practices. Indeed the English language that we use is constantly changing. Fifty years ago “bugger” was a word that was never used except in courtrooms or visiting sailor’s dockside watering holes. It is an “accepted” word now for daily use by the media. The jargon and procedures that we use on the air seems to be rapidly changing as newcomers from the Citizens bands and other services enter our hobby. Is it just me, or is the language and procedures we use truly changing and becoming more like the Citizens Radio Service every day? Does it bother anyone but me?
A couple of days ago I heard a call sign break the squelch on our local repeater. I called and had a nice enough conversation with a fellow as he was driving down the highway. He offered that his “personal” was [insert name here]. Every time he ended his transmission and turned it over to me he would say “Back to you” and then reverse the signing of the call letters by saying “ZL2xxx to ZL2AL” and often the “to” wasn’t used. In effect he was signing my call. He said he was planning to put up a “base station” soon, and then closed by saying he’d “catch [me] again some time.” Now, to be sure, this was a nice enough guy, and I enjoyed our conversation. But I was left wondering what—if anything—to do. Should I ignore it as making mention of the CB lingo would be rude? Should I have presumptuously suggested that’s not how “we” talk on ham radio? Or maybe I should just “get over it” and accept that our lexicon is changing. I ended up by saying nothing.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am delighted that the code requirement has been dropped as a licensing trigger in ZL and very happy that more are being licensed and joining us on ham radio. I think bringing in CB operators is a good thing. But I’ll admit I worry about us becoming more like “them.” I don’t want my radio service becoming just another “radio service” which could degenerate into a mish mash of pseudo amateur/CB operators. Oddly enough, I think a lot of CB radio ops joined the ranks of amateur radio to escape some of the extremes prevalent on the CB bands.
This brings me back to the “jargon” used. Amateur radio jargon evolved and has been used the same way for eons. Is the changing “lingo” the first step on the way to a new kind of amateur/CB combined service? If one listens to the Police channels or monitors the aircraft or fire frequencies they all have a jargon of their own. Should we as amateurs take more of an active roll in teaching our newcomer colleagues to the amateur service correct operating procedures? All of the newcomers to our hobby are desperately trying to fit in. Is their any training available to help them? What are “correct” operating procedures? Should I worry about it or is it just me?