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The other day, my aunt got a Facebook account. Shortly after I accepted her as a friend, she changed her status to say that she was ashamed of her nephew for using such foul language on Facebook, or anywhere for that matter.

So I called ASU sociolinguist Dr. Don Nilsen, my usual contact in cases such as this. Professor Nilsen told me, “What is obscene to one person is not obscene to another person,” and then told me about the sociolinguistic concept known as “code switching.”

Code switching has to do with how you adapt and modify your manner of speech when addressing certain people or groups of people. Different groups of people have different dialects, and words that are benign in a certain dialect — such as the “F-word” in young people’s language — may be offensive to speakers of another dialect, such as “fuddy-duddy” language, or “old people’s English.”

Code switching accounts for why you can’t call your professors, “dude,” and why you can’t say “G-D” around grandma.

Until recently, the dialects spoken on Facebook have been primarily those of young people — usually in English, but in other languages as well. But suddenly, and for whatever reason, there has been a rapid rise in the number of people on Facebook that are significantly older than the typical user.

These people have brought their own sociolinguistic expectations along with them, and were shocked when they found Facebook to be so overrun with the language of kids, kids, kids.

The Web community, formerly the sole domain of college kids who are normally comfortable with informal, relatively uncouth talk, has seen a sudden rise in the number of older users, of people who don’t speak this kind of English. Because very few Facebook users have changed their way of speaking — either because the demographic change was so quick or because they don’t care — these new, more elderly users are oftentimes offended by the words they see so casually tossed about. How could anyone speak this way? Who would ever call his friend the “D-b” word?

Kurt Vonnegut understood code switching in his short story “The Big Space F--k,” which is set 15 years in the future. In everyday conversation, the story’s characters use language that would make even an avocado blush. One of the characters, Dwayne, calls the sheriff “s--tface,” for example.

But no one in the story is offended by such language; only the reader is taken aback, presumably. In order to get through the story, the reader has to understand that he or she is simply reading English in a different form — one which is perhaps less polite than what we’re used to.

The new Facebook users, the ones more advanced in their years, face the same decision that anyone faces when reading “The Giant Space F*ck.”

Will they accept the language as tolerable yet foreign, or will they turn away in utter disgust? Or will they criticize its failure to adhere to their own cultural norms?

It shouldn’t matter. The language of our generation is perfectly good, perfectly charming and just fine. The great thing about chatting with other kids is that you get to cuss a whole lot, which is easy and fun.

There is actually talk right now about whether Internet speech will become more “fuddy-duddy” as a larger number of old people join social-networking sites.

Some people believe that the Internet is full of people who don’t know how to write, but that help is on the way — in the form of septuagenarians wielding etiquette manuals. But the opposite is on the way; we’ll keep on swearing and making English better.

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