It's a bit of job-seeking advice that parents have been dishing out to their aimless, unskilled, post-high school offspring for decades: You can always work at McDonald's.
And many have taken that advice. It is estimated that fully one out of every eight workers in the United States has put in stints behind the counters of the fast-food McGiant. Most of them have been eager to leave as quickly as possible. Low pay, poor prestige, and less-than-haute cuisine combine to make the job of a burger flipper McSpurned.
But at least the job shouldnt be denigrated in the English language as well. McDonald's Corp. on Tuesday restarted its push to get the word "McJob" removed from dictionaries -- and has set its sights on the gold standard of lexicons, the Oxford English Dictionary.
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."
The company says it will kick off its campaign in May in an attempt to change the "out-of-date" definition, as McDonald's spokeswoman Amanda Pierce called the McJob entry. But the hamburger giant may have to break out some special sauce for the effort. In 2003, the Merriam-Webster dictionary -- which defines McJob as "a low-paying job that required little skill and provides little opportunity of advancement" -- elected not to remove the word, despite McPressure.
The OED, for its part, has released a statement indicating it will likely also retain the word. "We can confirm that we monitor changes in the language and reflect these in our definitions, according to the evidence we find," the statement sent to SPIEGEL ONLINE reads.
There are other indications that Greasy McD's may be fighting a losing McBattle. The OED also has an entry for the entire "Mc" prefix, defining it as a depreciative prefix attached "chiefly to nouns to form nouns with the sense 'something that is of mass appeal, a standardized or bland variety... .'" McMansion -- "a modern house built on a large and imposing scale, but regarded as ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity" -- is also in the dictionary.
The burger joint itself has coined a couple of OED entries. "Quarter pounder" makes an appearance. So too, does the (transitive) verb "to supersize," defined as "To increase the size of, esp. to extravagant proportions."
Changing any of these entries will be quite a McJob.