early candidate for WOTY races

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 23 18:35:59 UTC 2004

>On Fri, Apr 23, 2004 at 05:36:54PM +0100, Michael Quinion wrote:
>>  "Presenteeism" has been lurking in the linguistic undergrowth for
>>  some time, as it happens, though with the sense of employees staying
>>  at work unnecessarily out of normal hours for fear of being laid off;
>>  my first example on file in that sense is from the Guardian of 30
>>  Nov. 1994: "In their search for a balance between life at work at
>>  life beyond it, they reject the 'presenteeism' which is becoming more
>>  of a problem than absenteeism in many organisations." But a search
>>  throws up an earlier sense still, from around 1944, when the US Air
>>  Force instituted a presenteeism campaign, with the word used in the
>>  sense of good attendance (among its civilian employees, not its
>>  servicemen).
>If you search the remote wilds of, say, OED2, you'll find a
>1931 example of _presenteeism_, along with a 1892 from Mark
>Twain of _presentee_ 'one who is present'.
>Jesse Sheidlower

Oops.  Silly of me not to've checked.  Notice, though, that all three
cited examples involve local "priming" by _absentee(ism)_, suggesting
an absence of viability.

1892 'MARK TWAIN' Amer. Claimant xxi. 211 There was an absentee who
ought to be a presentee --a word which she meant to look out in the
1931 H. WITHERS Everybody's Business ix. 161 Certainly he is an
absentee..if he adopted the habit of dropping in at the works and
making well-meant suggestions.., is it likely that his presenteeism
would be helpful?
1943 Nat. Liquor Rev. July 4/2 The Kaiser Company's public relation
officials discovered that the term 'absenteeism' irked the people who
read it... The Kaiser Company..changed its policy and praised those
who were on the job by using the term 'presenteeism'.


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