Longing for the days of William Saffire

April 24, 2014

By: Anne McCarthy​​

I miss William Saffire. I miss the passionate discussions about the English language. I miss the fervent debates about the meaning of words and phrases.

In a world where everyone can be a publisher and virtually everyone has the ability to produce content, I am stunned to see how our collective vocabulary is deteriorating to such a base level.

I am referring to the F-bomb.

I was recently attending a conference. One of the keynote speakers casually dropped the F-bomb in front of an audience of 150 people. No apology. No gasp from the audience. No reaction.

Many of my Facebook friends post truly amazing scientific facts and observations on a daily basis. The link is called “I XXXXing love science.”

Really?

What happened to the good old-fashioned FCC bleep censor?

With more than 170,000 words in the English language according to the Oxford English Dictionary, I think it’s time to embrace a few new adjectives, verbs and nouns and replace the F-word with something a bit more descriptive and a lot more polite.

“If you want to fulminate about such prissiness about prurience in print, feel free to rattle your jowls, blow your stack and otherwise express your outrage with the typographical device to which cartoonists have resorted for generations: !#*&%@%!!!,” wrote (my hero) William Saffire in 2008.

As our profession sets new standards in reputation and brand management, it may be a good time to expand our collective vocabulary and express ourselves in a more creative and sophisticated manner.

Maybe we should take a lesson from our print colleagues and apply the !#*&%@%!!! to all channels of communication!

Anne M. McCarthy is a senior consultant for FleishmanHillard and is the founder of Westmeath Global Communications, a cloud-consulting firm based in Denver, CO. You can reach her at anne.mccarthy@fleishman.com.