The question: when is it appropriate to use potentially objectionable language in a middle grade novel (or is it ever appropriate to do so)?
Why do I ask? Thunderstruck (my MG) is a multicultural story; one character is American Indian, another is from Mexico. The Mexican periodically throws out a Spanish word when he speaks. As one of my wonderful critique partners pointed out, the Spanish I've used for him is rather formal, therefore probably not very true-to-life. But a Mexican friend (who is helping me with this part of the manuscript) informed me that to make it true-to-life would require using a term that can also be used as an insult. Therein lies the problem.
So what's an author to do? Is it better to write something that's realistic, even if it might end up teaching some colorful language to a younger age group? Or is it better to stick to the less realistic, but unlikely to offend, language?
I know people often advise to make up your slang, but when the manuscript deals with two languages, I think that's a pretty big challenge.
What do you think?