Monday, June 11, 2007


Corporate Lawyers can be ferocious and McLawyers, like dogs with seven heads, surround you before you know what's bit you. So when the Oxford English Dictionary included McJob, defined as a boring, dead-end gig, the barking began. People tend to portray anything that's mass produced, nearly identical and mass marketed on the scale of "billions and billions" by putting Mc in front, like McMansions or McChurches, but sometimes the prefix refers to the sort of job that could almost be done by a machine if a machine would put up with something that boring and pointless.

But as I said, the McLawyers are as relentless as mosquitoes in a Minnesota summer. I once know a collector of McDonald's memorabilia who used the nickname The McNutt who got a cease and desist letter from them; not because he was making money from it - in fact he was promoting their products - but because he dared to Mc anything without their permission.

But anyway, since they can't sue the dictionary and there are too many people using McJob to take them all to court or to threaten them McDonald's is trying, in an Orwellian way, to stack the deck of language so that McJob will no longer be pejorative but filled with praise.

We can laugh and the Oxford linguists probably will too, unless enough money starts flowing, but the language really doesn't belong fully to us any more. So much of what we say and how we say it has been prescribed by special interest groups, lobbyists, University sociology departments and lawyers, that Orwell himself would giggle. We hardly see health clinics anymore, but "wellness centers" are everywhere. Real Estate Brokers wanted a higher sounding name, so they forced us to say "realtor" and we obey with hardly a snicker. Last week's paper announced the impending arrival of several new "lifestyle centers" which as best I can tell seem to be strip malls.

Most of us still realize that "pre-owned" means used and that a "mobile estate" is still a trailer, but all in all and just like everything else, our language is their language, bought and paid for and the function of their language is to sell and to manipulate.

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