McDonald's is taking action to get the word "McJob" taken out of the Oxford English Dictionary. Let's be clear: the job of a dictionary is to record language as it is spoken, and people clearly say "McJob" to mean a crummy job.
McDonald's argues that jobs at McDonald's aren't crummy, so people are wrong to call crummy jobs McJobs. Let's stipulate for the sake of argument that working at McD's is great -- would it matter? Nope. When we say "McJob," we mean "An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."
Now, whenever I write about trademarks, I get a bunch of emails asserting the voodoo theory of trademark: every conceivable use of a trademark has to be policed aggressively or you'll lose your trademarks forever. It's just not true. A trademark isn't the right to tell people what words they can use when they talk, and it isn't the right to tell dictionaries which words they're allowed to define. Voodoo trademarkism is a fairy tale that trademark lawyers tell their kids at night to reassure them that they'll have a healthy college fund.
From the point of view of the fast-food proletariat, the reason for the McLanguage offensive is clear: The word McJob, as the OED definition makes clear, is "depreciative." It goes on to define the term as: "An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector." It found its way into the dictionary in March 2001, 15 years after it was apparently coined by the Washington Post.
"Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And it this case, they got it completely wrong," Walt Riker, a Mickey D's McSpokesman complained to the Associated Press. "It's a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific work force and a company that's been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years."
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