Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Douglas Coupland

Classfellow J.L. sends along an interesting Coupland tidbit. (I can't help but add that the Time magazine writer certainly does nothing here to elevate the intellectual standard of popular journalism by his self-aggrandising application, and peurile understanding, of Wittgenstein on language. This, of course, is no reflection on the pertinancy of the article for our purposes.....)

"This is a Time article detailing McDonald's' effort to alter the OED definition of the word 'McJob', coined by Douglas Coupland over twenty years ago.
The late Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said that the meaning of a word was derived from the way it is used in language. Not according to McDonald's. The fast-food giant is currently lobbying dictionary publishers to change the meaning of the word McJob — or remove it altogether — on the grounds that it denigrates the company's employees.

5 comments:

Rachel said...

This makes me more angry than it should.

Trust McDonalds to miss the real heart of the issue: their employees are treated so poorly that the term McJob came to be.

April said...

Even if the OED caves in to this Mcpressure, people will still use the term Mcjob. I love the vibrancy of the English language (the fact that it continues to change and grow). I wonder if Dan Savage's term: 'Santorum' will ever make it into common usage...

retrodeathpixie said...

or DTMFA for that matter...

April said...

Dear Retrodeathpixie,
Ha! Yes, 'DTMFA' definitely deserves a place in the OED. It's like a Chinese character, containing an entire concept in just a few letters. And it's a concept most of us have grappled with at least once in our lives...

April said...

Anyone interested in word origins, slang, usage changes, euphemisms, etc. should take a look at "The American Language" by: H.L. Mencken. It's fascinating and frequently hilarious, for example, a selection of American surnames taken from a list of policy-holders with a large life-insurance company:

Ansen B. Outhouse
Chintz Royalty
John Bilious
Oscar R. Apathy
James A. Masculine, and the ever-beloved:
Barnum B. Bobo.