Political Correctness Teil II

Es ist sehr schön ein Büro mit vielen jungen Menschen zu teilen, die gut und gern Englisch sprechen. Als Programmierer, Entwickler und international aufgestelltes Start-up sind sie viel in den sozialen Medien, Foren und Webinars unterwegs. Letzte Woche stolperte einer meiner Bürofreunde über eine Debatte in Twitter und Co. Es ging wieder um Political Correctness der Sorte, die mich so verblüfft und verärgert, dass nur eins hilft: sich einen kräftigen Aperol Spritz zu mischen, damit man es schnell wieder vergisst! Ein „Guy“ ist auf Englisch ein Mann, mehrere „Guys“ sind mehrere Männer. Aber heutzutage begrüßt man gern eine Gruppe Frauen und Männer, die man gut kennt mit „Hey guys“. Die besagte Debatte ging darum, dass man angeblich Frauen mit diesem Sammelbegriff diskriminiere. Ein echter Sturm der Entrüstung fegte durch einige Ecken der Twitter-Welt, dass man auf jeden Fall den Begriff „Guys“ meiden solle, wenn man Männer und Frauen anspreche. Hier fällt mir der deutsche Spruch ein „Man sollte den Ball flach halten“ (auf Englisch: „You need to keep things in perspective“). In einer Welt, in der viele junge Frauen um ihr Recht auf Bildung kämpfen und manchmal deswegen mit dem Leben bezahlen müssen, frage ich mich, was sie denken würden, wenn sie über so ein Pille-Palle lesen würden! „Guys“ war für mich immer eine sehr freundliche Art, Leute zu begrüßen und ich habe meinem Bürofreund ermutigt, weiterzumachen. Free English lesson: „Mein Puls ging auf 180, als ich von dieser Borniertheit hörte“ – „This stupidity got me hot under the collar“!

9 Antworten to “Political Correctness Teil II”

  1. Max Headroom Says:

    Gab es nicht mal eine Popgruppe namens „Guys’n’Dolls“? Würden sich die ForumsteilnehmerInnen wohler fühlen, wenn sie als „dolls“ bezeichnet würden? Wohl kaum.
    Na gut, wir sind über die Anrede „Wir begrüßen Herrn und Frau Michael Mustermann“ hinaus – als ob die Frau keinen eigenen Namen hätte.
    Ja, man kann sich immer und überall auf den Schlips getreten fühlen. Aber: wie hat doch „Der Postillon“ (http://www.der-postillon.com/2011/11/umfrage-neun-von-zehn-buroangestellten.html) herausgefunden: 9 von 10 Büroangestellten finden Mobbing völlig in Ordnung.
    Was nicht heißt, dass man über seine Sprachgewohnheiten nicht nachdenken soll. Aber das gilt für beide Seiten. Denn zuerst erwirbt man die Sprache arglos durch Nachmachen. Und erst später lernt man, die Worte auch als Waffe zu nutzen.
    Die Unterstellung, das täte jeder zu jeder Zeit ist allerdings, so finde ich, nicht weniger borniert als der unterstellte Vorsatz der Verletzung.

    • Sally Massmann Says:

      Guys ’n Dolls – ja – mit David van Day, der später mit Freundin die Gruppe Dollar gründete! Seine Karriere scheint wirklich nachher bombig gelaufen zu sein, denn wenn ich mich richtig erinnere, war er vor ein paar Jahren bei der englischen Version des Dschungelcamps. Blast from the past – ich habe mich gerade kaputt gelacht!

  2. Roland Heuer Says:

    Nun könnten sich die Herren auch gerne mit: „Hey, chaps,…!“ von den Damen sprachlich absetzen. Anderseits scheint dieses überflüssig, da ich bei meinen täglichen Bahnreisen lernen musste, dass sich mit „Ay, Alter,…!“ durchaus auch die jungen Damen gegenseitig ansprechen. La vie est comme ca, auch wenn dies kein wirklich gutes Englisch ist.

  3. Tony Mellor-Stapelberg Says:

    Dear Sally, You have once again revealed your extreme youth by saying you remembered a pop group called “Guys and Dolls”, but not mentioning the highly successful 1950s musical! (Which I presume the pop group was named after.)

    As to the use of “guys” itself, it’s not clear to me whether with your statement „Ein echter Sturm der Entrüstung fegte durch einige Ecken der Twitter-Welt, dass man auf jeden Fall den Begriff “Guys” meiden solle, wenn man Männer und Frauen anspreche“ you are referring to German or English tweets. My feeling is that it could only be among Germans who have not yet understood, because they confuse grammatical gender with what I still call “sex”, that whereas in German feminists insist on both a masculine and a feminine word being used, in English “integrative language” requires just the opposite, namely that the same word should be used for both, and (some? many?) women feel discriminated against by the use of words like “manageress” since they suggest that a woman cannot be a proper manager. (One of the “-ess” words I thought would survive was “actress”; but of course that because I was old-fashioned enough to still expect that on the stage male roles would normally be played by men and female roles by women, which is no longer necessarily the case. The “Guardian” at least now only uses “actor”.) And I have had to warn Germans: Do not on any account call a woman priest of the Church of England a “priestess”!!!

    My observation is that “guy(s)” has progressed – here I’m only talking about American English, I never use the word myself – from being used only for men, first to being used for mixed groups and from there to being used also for groups consisting only of women. And if you think what the alternatives are – either “dolls” or “girls” – you can see the point in terms of integrative language as explained above – these terms are much more likely to be felt to be discriminatory. So in Anglo-American use it is not politically incorrect to use one word, which was previously only used for men, to apply to both men and women; on the contrary, it is politically incorrect to distinguish men from women by using different words unless it is clearly relevant to know whether the person concerned is male or female (not masculine or feminine!!) – which is very rarely the case. I used to quote to my classes from a report in the Economist on a brawl during a cabinet meeting in Zambia, in which “one minister suffered a broken arm, while another complained she had been threatened with rape.” I pointed out that after reading this we do not know whether the minister whose arm was broken was a man or a woman – but why should that be important? – I also once read a long article about a Chinese artist, and since I couldn’t tell from the name, I had reached the third column before I learnt from the word “she” that the person concerned was a woman.

    Tony Mellor-Stapelberg

    • Sally Massmann Says:

      Oh it’s nice to be told you have „revealed your extreme youth“ when you’re feeling like you could do with some Botox! And I HAVE heard of the musical called Guys and Dolls as well. My parents had a record of it that they often played. You will be suprised to hear that the source of the whole „guys“ thing was in fact an American. This whole „-ess“ suffix is certainly dying out in English usage. I laughed at the idea of calling a woman cleric in the C of E a priestess. You’re right of course, to us that would mean someone who looked like Cleopatra or wore a toga and offered up sacrifices to the gods.

  4. Tony Mellor-Stapelberg Says:

    A propos whether it is more politically correct or feminist to use one word for both sexes or to use two different ones: it occurs to me that it may not be surprising that it was an American who objected to women being included in „guys“, since the matter may well be treated differently in American from British English. This may be yet another example of the quite extensive influence of German on American English; or it may be something different, recalling (for example) the fact that when Oxford University had at last reached the point where nearly all the colleges, formerly single-sex, had gone mixed, the conversion of Somerville (a celebrated women’s college) to co-ed was for a while blocked by concerted opposition from the American students there. – Whichever way it is, I was totally amazed today to find the following on the title page of a Powerpoint presentation:

    Ann Shola Orloff
    Professor of Sociology and Political Science
    Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition Chair
    Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA

    Lady managers!! Apart from anything else: in Britain, if it was felt necessary to define the sex of the people concerned, they would certainly be called woman or women managers, not ladies, which sounds to my British ear like genteel 19th century condescension on the same level as „lady novelist“.

    Oh, and by the way: a word instead of „guys“ that definitely covers both men and women is of course „folks“. In British English this can practically only be used jocularly („Hello, folks!!, Neddy Seagoon used to say in „The Goon Show“ – gosh, that shows my age!) or is possibly also dialect; in American English it is more widely used than British people seem to know or want to admit. I remember that on 9/11 the Guardian was absolutely horrified that George Bush referred to „the folks who did this“. „Folks!!??“ they exclaimed, using italics and multiple punctuation, using it as a further welcome example of Bush’s incompetence, both political and linguistic; but this was totally unfair to Bush. I have in recent weeks also heard an important American spokesperson – it may have been Obama, but I’m not sure – refer to ISIS terrorists as „folks“. You couldn’t do that in Britain, you’d have to say „people“ – but in American it appears to be standard.

    • Sally Massmann Says:

      That’s interesting about folks. In Scotland they say „folk“ more than they do „people“. Scottish friends of mine would say: „I’m not sure if folk will want a pudding after such a big dinner“. Folk to me sounds a nice word, kind of cosy with mugs of cocoa around a crackling fire. It’s never a word I would use to describe somebody who had committed some ghoulish act. As to Lady Managers – in my view that sounds just plain daft.

  5. Tony Mellor-Stapelberg Says:

    Two months later I have just spent two weeks in „the UK“ (left to myself I would say „England“) and came across another example of this use of only one word to cover different sexual (sorry, I mean „gender“) or social categories that would previously have been referred to by different words. In the „Guardian“ – yes, the very temple of political correctness – I saw two examples where a person was referred to in a headline as a „partner“, although in the actual article a person concerned called them „my wife“ or „my husband“. Now there is of course a word meaning „husband or wife, as the case may be“, a word that fifty years ago was on the verge of extinction but has been rescued by political correctness, namely „spouse“. From the fact that the Guardian used „partner“ and not „spouse“, and that not once but twice so that it cannot have just been an accident, I deduce that in p.c. („politically correct“) circles it is now considered discriminatory to indicate whether a couple are married or not, so that „partner“ is used as an „Überbegriff“ („high level term“) for „spouse, civil partner or cohabitee, as the case may be“. – Similarly, I saw examples where a woman in the acting profession was referred to as an „actor“, even though in the same article someone was quoted referring to her as an „actress“. (It would of course be politically very incorrect to modify what someone actually said if you want to quote them.)

    • Sally Massmann Says:

      Yes, these things have become ridiculous. If someone doesn’t want to say whether as a couple they are married or not – then OK. But if in the article they have actually referred to the other half as „my wife“ or „my husband“ then this is PC gone mad. I often see actresses referred to as actors these days, but more often in the US than in Britain.

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