To jump ship

Jumot

Senior Member
French, Canada
Hello everyone,

I am wondering about the use of "To jump ship". If I want to say that an individual went from a government job to a job in the private sector, which is better :

1. She jumped ship into the private sector. (note: it is obvious from the context that he was a civil servant before)
2. She jumped ship and joined the private sector.
3. She jumped ship to join the private sector.

If none are good and you have a better suggestion, let me know :D

Also, can this expression be used in a semi-formal context. As in a newspaper/magazine article for example? Or is it too informal/colloquial.

Thanks a lot!
 
  • Not Logged In

    Banned
    England
    Leave without permission.

    Nautical term from the days when sailors were pressed into service. To leave without permission involved literally jumping over the side into the sea to escape.

    2 and 3 are fine.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    3 is the nicest construction. 2 passes muster. 1 does not.

    Another variable:

    She jumped ship, joining the private sector.

    But I'd prefer 3 to that as well.
     

    Not Logged In

    Banned
    England
    I'm don't agree about "She jumped ship, joining the private sector" since the jumping of the ship did not in itself join her to the private sector.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    This is a very fanciful use of "jump ship" to me. I've never heard it used in any but a pejorative way-- you can use the gangplank, incidentally, and don't have to literally jump overboard, but the word still connotes desertion, at least as far as I know.

    If a term like "jump ship" can be used simply to mean "leave public service," then it just goes to show how value-neutral our vocabulary is growing. I wonder if it's a "civilian thing."

    Or an AE/BE difference? Is this a set phrase meaning to bail out in the most figurative possible way? "I jumped ship and joined the civilian sector" certainly wouldn't have been said on either side of the Pond during the WWII era.
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    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    With all due respect foxfirebrand, you were barely born when WWII ended so I call your judgement in question in this respect. I was born rather prior to the event but was still too young to recall expressions of this nature. That said, 'to jump ship' is used in BE but in my view more in connection when quitting a good job in one sector to go to a similar job with a competitor, e.g. from Ford to GM (if they let you!). It has a somewhat traitorous connotation, which is why you didn't hear the expression used in WWII!
    Happy days!
     

    Jumot

    Senior Member
    French, Canada
    This is a very fanciful use of "jump ship" to me. I've never heard it used in any but a pejorative way-- you can use the gangplank, incidentally, and don't have to literally jump overboard, but the word still connotes desertion, at least as far as I know.

    If a term like "jump ship" can be used simply to mean "leave public service," then it just goes to show how value-neutral our vocabulary is growing. I wonder if it's a "civilian thing."

    Or an AE/BE difference? Is this a set phrase meaning to bail out in the most figurative possible way? "I jumped ship and joined the civilian sector" certainly wouldn't have been said on either side of the Pond during the WWII era.
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    Thank you all for your help, and rest assured Foxfirebrand, a desertion is what I am talking about. The public sector lacked the funding necessary to provide her with what she needed, she did not want to sink with the ship and fled to the private sector!

    Now one more thing...Is "To jump ship" too informal/colloquial for a magazine like say...Times or McLean's?
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    With all due respect foxfirebrand, you were barely born when WWII ended so I call your judgement in question in this respect.
    But I know all sorts of stuff about the way English was spoken in Elizabethan times, when I was but a gleam in my great-great-umteenth-greatgrandfather's eye. Now how did that happen?

    What a curiously claustrophobic theory you have of the capacity of the mind to explore beyond the immediately experienced-- the cranial lining as it were. I thought that communicating experience from one generation to the next was the whole point of language.
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    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Hi! foxfirebrand. My comment was related to the way you expressed yourself, as if it were a personal knowledge rather than one acquired. Like you, I am also familiar with expressions, etc. which were used before my time or even in parts of the world which I have never visited but which I have learned through communication.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    My comment was related to the way you expressed yourself, as if it were a personal knowledge rather than one acquired.
    I was born in a field hospital on an Army base and spent my first 18 years in the military. I spent the cognizant and formative part of my childhood (age 7-10) on a fighter/bomber base in Occupied Japan. The phrase I used was "during the WWII era," and I can assure you I imbibed the tenor of those times with mother's milk.

    That said, it's beside the point, as anyone who is driven to learn things beyond his immediate ken can eventually accumulate enough authority to opine about language usage during any period he has studied thoroughly enough.
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    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    With all due respect foxfirebrand, you were barely born when WWII ended so I call your judgement in question in this respect.

    I think that this sentence might have been better worded. Foxfirebrand's "judgement" is not in any doubt. His knowledge of language usage "on either side of the Pond during the WWII era" is second-hand, at best. That does not demean it, or lessen its truth.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    You're right maxiogee, I chose the wrong word, unfortunately it just popped out. I would never dare question firefoxbrand's judgement, or anyone else's for that matter, unless I had very good grounds for doing so. It was, I'm afraid, gratuitously offensive, for which I aplogise.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    You're right maxiogee, I chose the wrong word, unfortunately it just popped out. I would never dare question firefoxbrand's judgement, or anyone else's for that matter, unless I had very good grounds for doing so. It was, I'm afraid, gratuitously offensive, for which I aplogise.
    Not even close to offensive, Porteño. No sweat (WWII-era expression).
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