A Tale of Two D’s: Mickey and the OE

This is a story that almost has it all: fast food, research tools, and the whiff of legal challenge. Meat and drink, so to speak, to the world of Slaw.

Word has it that McDonald’s has taken a scunner to the OED‘s inclusion of McJob, at least defined as it now isThe story is everywhere: a Canada.com link will suffice.:

McJob, n.
colloq. and depreciative (orig. U.S.).

    An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.

Apparently Mickey D’s has been around this block once before, when in 2003 it tried to get the editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary not to include the definition. That failed. Now Ronald’s employer is trying a campaign (to start in May) in England to persuade THE English dictionary that the definition is stale. I’d think that so few people actually have access to the OED and so many fewer ever use it, that the game wouldn’t be worth the candle, and will be more likely to puzzle people than educate them.

No law here. But the story on Boing Boing did tie it somewhat to a trademark matter; however, it doesn’t seem as though there is in fact any element of legal action in the current challenge. Could there be? Do dictionaries have or should they have any sort of special status when it comes to the various legal controls on speech, such as defamation or trademark. I suppose that context is all, and in just about every case I can think of the mere (and accurate?) assertion that a word or phrase has currency as meaning this or that, wouldn’t run into trouble. Would it?

Legal or not, I’m loving it.

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