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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

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  • Court rules you can't swear like a trucker in trucking office

Comments Jul 20, 2009 10:48 am

In an earlier era, Very Sensitive People were offended by the sight of a bare ankle or an undraped piano leg. Now, bare skin in nearly any shape or conformation is ordinary -- within limits. So, also, language use and misuse have evolved. When once a bland euphemism was brazen speech, now it takes a string of colorful epithets to raise a hackle. Some people are far more easily roused to anger or embarrassment by foul language - or undraped piano legs. In my opinion, the litigation against coarse language in the workplace has no merit, unless there is an unambiguous demonstration of adverse health effects in those exposed to it. An employer, on the other hand, may find it possible to regulate speech in the workplace in the same way that dress or grooming or interpersonal conduct is regulated, in the context of protecting the company's business and fiscal well-being.


In my own opinion and personal usage, the repeated and casual use of the F-bomb is unimaginative and also reduces the "power" or desired effect of our most taboo epithet. (BTW, as an ex-sailor, may I note that there is no possible form of swearing a trucker could use, that would make me blush.)

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