associate, adj. and n.

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 8 20:23:12 UTC 2012

The claim of higher status would have been true if they represented
different positions. But IME "associates" simply replaced "clerks" as a
denomination, as you guess. If you mean that it was intended to give an
impression of a superior position, I'm inclined to agree--much the same
way as "administrative assistant" was meant to be less demeaning to the
employee than "secretary". (janitor == facilities care associate?) Now
we have a generic category of "office professional", which is how
Hallmark is pushing their former "Secretaries' Day".


On 6/8/2012 10:13 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> Victor, I see "associate" as a term intended to convey a higher status
> than some other position/term -- e.g., a "mailroom associate" is more
> prestigious than a "mailroom clerk". I agree that the "associate"
> positions are inferior to other positions -- but so is everyone
> inferior to someone else, except the head man/woman. And I wonder how
> frequently the "associate" is attached to the term X for some position
> so that it becomes "X associate", clearly inferior to a just plain X.
> That is, X morphs into Y -- e.g., "nurse" (or perhaps "orderly") into
> "patient care (associate)". So the position may be the same, have the
> same duties, but it sounds more prestigious. In the case of an
> "associate" professor, that position is actually, as you note,
> *superior* to another position, the "assistant" professor. So perhaps
> the sense one wants in a dictionary is the *pretension* rather than
> the inferiority. Joel

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list