More print media editors are letting once-taboo "four-letter" words reach their readers, according to the 13th Annual Indiana University Language Usage Survey.
In an interesting twist from just five years ago, retired journalism professor Richard Tobin found that 61 percent of more than 200 newspaper and magazine editors surveyed would permit the use of an expletive under various circumstances.In his 1986 survey, Tobin reported that 92.6 percent of copy editors would have no use for profanity, despite the source or context.
"In a word, a trend toward far more liberal use of four-letter words in print is obvious from the results of the survey. It's a trend that cannot be ignored," Tobin said Tuesday.
"A great many copy editors avoided concrete answers," he said, "and quite a few replied that they always check with their managing editors when four-letter words come up in quotes and copy."
Twenty percent of those surveyed this year would have cut the so-called vulgarity out of the copy. The survey contains 10 questions on style and usage, all of them based on actual quotes printed in publications during the past year.
Playboy magazine replied that it would "spell out everything," while the Christian Science Monitor has a total ban on expletives.
Better Homes and Gardens said, "It's not the kind of problem we have!"