Wednesday, March 21, 2007

McDonald's Doesn't Get It

When I saw the teaser, "McDONALD'S vs. DICTIONARIES. It wants one word expunged," I knew it had to be about "McJob," a word I learned from Douglas Coupland's Generation X about 15 years ago. The fast food giant failed to convince Merriam-Webster to remove the word several years ago, and now the Oxford English Dictionary is in the corporate crosshairs:
McDonald's executives say the definition is demeaning to its workers. "Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And in this case they got it completely wrong," said Walt Riker, a McDonald's spokesman. "It's a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific workforce and a company that's been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years."
But McDonald's doesn't get it. The function of a dictionary is not to avoid offense or to judge the veracity of a word's meaning; it is merely to document a language. Unless you've been living in a cultural deprivation chamber for the past decade, you know what a McJob is. Regardless of whether McDonald's likes the term, Oxford's definition is indeed accurate: "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector." Surely the Oxford folks have no intention of kowtowing to this corporate whiner.

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