Skip to main content
verschiedene Personen mit bunten Sprechblasen
Photo: pixabay

Diversity-sensitive language

Language and discrimination are closely related. Language can be discriminatory and (unconsciously) reproduce pejorative views of certain social groups. For a long time, power relations have also been inscribed in language use and certain terms have been and are explicitly used to characterize people as inferior. Often we are not even aware of the problematic connotations of terms and it requires an active confrontation and the willingness to deal with language in a discrimination-sensitive way. At the same time, language plays an important reinforcing role in the context of discrimination. For example, when marginalized groups appropriate terms and confidently choose political self-designations and demand their use. Not all people are familiar with all the terms used in the context of anti-discrimination. Moreover, this use of language is constantly changing, just as debates about social power relations continue to evolve and be renegotiated. Even though some terms may seem unwieldy or unfamiliar at first, they enable us to think about the world differently and to question previously familiar structures and worldviews. Last but not least, they enable us to refer to people respectfully and to choose a language that is inclusive and includes everyone.

Further reading

  • Susan Arndt, Antje Hornscheidt: Africa and the German Language. Unrast Verlag 2018.
  • Susan Arndt, Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard (eds.): "Wie Rassismus aus Wörtern spricht: (K)Erben des Kolonialismus im Wissensarchiv deutsche Sprache. Ein kritisches Nachschlagewerk.", Unrast Verlag 2011.