Linguistic Insecurity (noun.)

Definition: The feeling of anxiety, self-consciousness, or lack of confidence surrounding the use of language in a specific context.

Also referenced as:

Related to: Complex, Controlled Vocabulary, Fuzzy, Language, Misunderstandings, Ontology



The word linguistic insecurity was used 3 times across 3 pages


Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 70

The average person gives and receives directions all day long, constantly experiencing the impact of language and context. Whether it's a grocery list from a partner or a memo from a manager, we've all experienced what happens when a poor choice of words leads to the wrong outcome. Whether we're confused by one word or the entire message, the anxiety that comes from misunderstanding someone else's language is incredibly frustrating.

Imagine that on your first day at a new job every concept, process, and term you're taught is labeled with nonsense jargon. Now imagine the same first day, only everything you're shown has clear labels you can easily remember. Which second day would you want?

We can be insecure or secure about the language we're expected to use. We all prefer security.

Linguistic insecurity is the all too common fear that our language won't conform to the standard or style of our context.

To work together, we need to use language that makes sense to everyone involved.



Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 74

A controlled vocabulary is an organized list of terms, phrases, and concepts intended to help someone navigate a specific context.

Documenting language standards can reduce linguistic insecurity.

A good controlled vocabulary considers:

  • Variant spellings (e.g., American or British)
  • Tone (e.g., Submit or Send)
  • Scientific and popular terms (e.g., cockroaches or Periplaneta Americana)
  • Insider and outsider terms (e.g., what we say at work; what we say in public)
  • Acceptable synonyms (e.g., automobile, car, auto, or vehicle)
  • Acceptable acronyms (e.g., General Electric, GE, or G.E.)


Chapter 7: Prepare to Adjust | Page 121

It's totally normal for fear, anxiety, and linguistic insecurity to get in the way of progress. Learning to work with others while they're experiencing these not-so-pleasant realities is the hardest part of making sense of a mess.

Tension can lead to arguments. Arguments can cause resentment. Resentment can kill momentum. And when momentum stalls, messes grow larger and meaner.

To get through the tension, try to understand other people's positions and perceptions: