Carmaker reveals banned words
DETROIT — What do the words “safety,” “chaotic” and “problem” have in common?
They’re all on General Motors’ list of banned words for employees documenting safety issues.
The revelation of the 68-word list is one of the odder twists in GM’s ongoing recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches.
On Friday, the U.S. government slapped GM with a $35 million fine for failing to report the deadly defect for more than a decade. The government also released a 2008 GM training document that includes the list and warns employees not to use language that could hurt the company later.
The word “defect,” for example, “can be regarded as a legal admission” and should be avoided, the company document says.
Adjectives like “bad,” “terrifying,” “dangerous,” “horrific” and “evil” are on the list. So are unflattering terms like “deathtrap,” “widow-maker” and “Hindenburg.” Even seemingly benign words like “always” and “never” made it on the list.