GM recall investigation reveals banned words

What do the words “safety,” “chaotic” and “problem” have in common? They are on General Motors’ list of banned words for employees who were documenting safety issues.
By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer, AP Auto Writer Published: May 17, 2014
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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.