A “Hill Speak” Primer: Explaining the Legislative Jargon of Congress

PSC 49 V2 CoverThe latest virtual issue of PS features articles written by alumni of the Congressional Fellowship Program (CFP) from 2010 to 2015. The CFP fellows serve yearlong placements in congressional and executive offices, and they chronicle their firsthand experiences in the pages of PS. Enjoy the full virtual issue here.

A “Hill Speak” Primer: Explaining the Legislative Jargon of Congress

Dan Schill - James Madison University Prof PSCDan Schill, Professor of Political Science at James Madison University

“Nearly every profession and technical field has its own jargon composed of specialized vocabulary and shared idioms. For example, computer programmers have Java and PHP, military service members have MREs and MPs, and television reporters have shots and hits. French philosopher Condillac observed in 1782 that “every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas.” Of course, political science is no different, as long-time New York Times columnist William Safire demonstrated in his celebrated dictionaries of political language (Safire 2008). Political affairs are infused with colorful and historical turns of phrase and anecdotes.

One of the first things that APSA Congressional Fellows realize upon joining a personal or committee office is the amount and scope of jargon and slang that are used on Capitol Hill. Aides use this shorthand to smooth conversations and negotiate the pitfalls of working in a politically charged environment…” Read More.

PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 43 / Issue 04 / October 2010, pp 831-833