April 08, 2007

My flight was delayed because of cussing?

According to Reuters ("U.S. flight cancelled after pilot's foul language", 4/8/2007):

Northwest Airlines cancelled a flight set to leave from Las Vegas to Detroit after the captain cursed on a cell phone in a bathroom, then swore at one of the 180 passengers on the plane, officials said on Saturday.

I was visiting Michigan to give a couple of talks at MSU, and my Northwest flight from Detroit to Philly on Friday left almost two hours late. I think the explanation had something to do with a "federally mandated" crew something-or-another. Or maybe that was one of the delays on the way out.

Anyhow, I'm used to delays due to bad weather. But delays due to bad language are a whole new concept.

Since I'm a positive-thinking kind of person, and since the main reason for my trip to Michigan was to repeat a talk I gave on "The Future of Linguistics" at the January LSA meeting, I'm naturally looking for the disciplinary upside of this development. Perhaps the NOAA's National Weather Service will see the need to establish a branch for forecasting sociolinguistic disturbances, in keeping with their broader mission to "[save] lives by providing immediate alerts of severe weather warnings and civil emergency messages and giving critical lead time to respond and remain safe":

[I don't have any evidence that the delay in my Detroit-Philly flight had anything to do with the cussing pilot on the Las Vegas-Detroit flight. The odds are that my delay was just one of the many ordinary non-cussing-pilot delays to be expected these days. But still...]

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 8, 2007 07:32 AM