Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the baffling linguistics of job postings

While Googling around for other things, I caught this odd fish contained within a job posting for an Account Manager:

DISCLAIMER: ... Linguistics used herein may use First Person Singular and First Person Plural grammatical person construction for and with the meaning of Third Person Singular and Third Person Plural references. We reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet business and organizational needs as necessary (emphasis added).

If I understand this correctly, the bold faced passage says that the authors are allowing themselves to use constructions like "we walks..." and "we talks..."

But, if you look at the uses of "we" within the text of the actual job posting, nowhere do they actually do this, EXCEPT in the disclaimer itself. I find this baffling. What is the purpose of this? Simply to allow them to write "We reserves..." I Googled the sentence and found it popping up in all kinds of job postings and the same thing is true. The only time a posting invokes its self-appointed right to this grammatical modification, is within the disclaimer. It appears to be boiler-plate job-speak of some kind. I'm remarkably freaked out by this.

7 comments:

Keri said...

I've never heard of such a thing. Even if they used the construction throughout, what would be the purpose? Maybe someone put it in, meaning something else, and then everyone copied them thinking it's just required legal mumbo-jumbo.

I'm really baffled as well, so I'm subscribing to the comments to see if anyone has any reasonable explanation.

Tom Noir said...

I love boilerplate. This passage crops up in the EULAs for all kinds of software that has NOTHING to do with homeland security (for example, iTunes):

You may not use or otherwise export or re-export the Licensed Application except as authorized by United States law and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the Licensed Application was obtained. In particular, but without limitation, the Licensed Application may not be exported or re-exported (a) into any U.S. embargoed countries or (b) to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the U.S. Department of Commerce Denied Person’s List or Entity List. By using the Licensed Application, you represent and warrant that you are not located in any such country or on any such list. You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons.

Chris said...

@Tom, I for one feel far safer knowing OBL is legally barred from using iTunes to manufacture a nuclear weapon, hehe.

Benjamin Lukoff said...

I wonder if they thought were saying they would use "they" for "him"/"her"?

Chris said...

Benjamin, that would certainly make more sense.

YeshuaAaron said...

I wonder if it might be more an artefact of some templating where the standard document has text such as "The Company reserves the right to" which, when "The Company" is replaced with "we", becomes "we reserves the right to", &c.

Chris said...

YeshuaAaron, yes, this would explain it. Nice analysis.