The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0637 Wednesday, 6 April 2005
Date: Wednesday, 6 Apr 2005 00:24:03 -0400
Subject: Shakespeare and "Customer Service"
Cape Cod Times
Customer service or corporate prostitution?
'Company policy' makes us question who is serving whom
This week, let's examine what has become an oxymoronic euphemism --
According to The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, "customer" was
first meant to describe someone who owned a house after having rented it
for a long time, deriving from the Latin word custodia, which means
"guarding or keeping."
By the end of the 15th century, the word came to mean "one who frequents
any place for the sake of purchasing." But in the early 17th century the
meaning of the word "customer" took on another meaning, used as a
synonym for a common prostitute. In fact, Shakespeare used the word to
refer to prostitution twice in his work.
Though marketing minions, corporate executives, and "free-market"
ideologues use the word in its technical sense -- "one who frequents any
place for the sake of purchasing" -- as a longtime customer of many
businesses, I feel more like a Shakespearean prostitute than I do a
...The rest didn't refer to Shakespeare.
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