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Exploring languages and cultures
Exploring languages and cultures

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3.3.1 Same term, different meanings

In the next activity you will watch a video featuring Jan Grothusen, chief executive of an engineering company called Guidance, in which he talks about the potential pitfalls of using particular specialist terms with a member of a different profession.

Activity 21

Watch the video and then complete the drag-and-drop activity that follows.

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Specialist terminology and jargon
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Taking into account what Jan says and your own understanding of the term, match each meaning of the word ‘target’ to the person who would be most likely to use the word with that meaning.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. An object that you locate and track

  2. An object that you shoot at

  3. A goal

  • a.A lay person, using everyday language

  • b.Jan’s customer, who has a military background

  • c.Jan Grothusen

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = c
  • 2 = b
  • 3 = a


In its everyday sense, ‘target’ is used metaphorically rather than literally.

As you can see, the connotations of the word ‘target’ are completely different in engineering, military and business contexts. In many instances words which have an everyday meaning also have a specialist meaning in other contexts.