Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Language Change Snippet : Nice try, Ronald!

According to the BBC, The UK arm of McDonald's is planning a campaign to have the dictionary definition of a McJob changed. The Oxford English Dictionary defines MacJob as: "An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector." Macdonald's complain that this definition is "out of date and inaccurate" - sensitive of the negative connation of the neologism, MacDonald's countered it by spearheading an employment campaign last year entitled 'McProspects', stating that "over half of our executive team started in restaurants. Not bad for a McJob." Fine: it is their prerogative to do so, although whether anyone was convinced is another issue (they didn't specify which restaurants!). However MacDonald's has a lot to learn about the way language functions in the real world: even if the OED were to change the official definition under corporate pressure, the common meaning and use of the term MacJob would remain the same. Enforced language change is, happily, always doomed to failure - whether the clown likes it or not.

Terminology check: neologism

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