A critical vocabulary is a formal terminology related to one or more branches of critical theory. Although it may be considered a type of jargon, it is predominantly used by academics and is not slang. The word "critical", as used in the term critical vocabulary, takes on two meanings: "of essential importance" and "of or pertaining to critics or criticism." Thus, the vocabulary is of essential importance to the critical theory that employs it and is used by that critical theory in order to produce criticism.
Unlike the term jargon, the term critical vocabulary is seldom used as a collective noun. It is typically preceded by the definite or indefinite article. When speaking about more than one critical theory, it is used in the plural (i.e. "the critical vocabularies of postmodern studies").
Several people have criticized critical vocabularies as tools of alienation or obfuscation. Also there have been assertions that the relatively recent proliferation of critical vocabularies has resulted in redundancy of both terms and ideas. See the Pitfalls section under jargon.
- Critical theory
- Critical theory (Frankfurt School)
- Critical thinking
- Cultural critic
- Technical terminology
- What "Critical" means in "Critical Thinking": Donald Jenner, BMCC/CUNY (pdf)