Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Take this McJob and--well, you know

Rumors that McDonald’s has demanded the stand-down and de-nosing of all clowns except Ronald McDonald appear to be flights of fancy, but not so the reports that it wants the English language adjusted. News stories coming out of the United Kingdom indicate that the fearsome burger chain and sometime linguist is mounting a campaign to purge “McJobs” from the dictionary.

The cause will be regarded by many in the U.S. foodservice business as valorous, if not the sort of gallantry of which schoolchildren will someday sing. Perspective, people! Sure, it’s an admirable effort from the industry’s standpoint, a defense against the sensational sound byte that tars entry-level restaurant jobs as a sure sign off loser-dom. (No word yet on whether Burger King is similarly trying to expunge “whopper flopper” from the vocabulary.)

But you have to acknowledge the audacity and sense of might that would give rise to such a push. Remember, this is the corporate entity that gave the world the Hamburglar and wrote “supersize” into the vernacular. And, when all is said and done, it sells burgers, drinks and fries. Those aren’t the ideal credentials for a party that asserts the right to police the English language.

There’s no doubt that McJobs is a term that denotes the user’s ignorance. It’s just a shame that we need a fast-food chain to lead the charge against the formal recognition of such a derogatory word as a part of the language. And it’s more than a bit scary that the chain is probably going to prevail, with or without the blessing of the tweed-clad real guardians of the mother tongue.


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