Sprachwissenschaft: Politisch-korrekte Sprache

Analysen politisch-korrekter Sprache, die – wenn man so will: wissenssoziologisch die politisch-korrekte Sprache hinterfragen sind sehr selten. Einer der wenigen Versuche, das Phänoemn “politisch-korrekte Sprache” in seinen sprachlichen Auswirkungen und Voraussetzungen zu analysieren, stammt von Keith Allan und Kate Burridge. Er findet sich im Buch “Forbidden Words”.

Dort steht unter anderem Folgendes zu lesen:

“Robert Hughes described PC language as a ‘linguistic Lourdes, where evil and misfortune are dispelled by a dip in the waters of euphemism’. Is that all it is? Political correctness gets us to focus on the claims of different groups; it prescribes and proscribes public language for ethnicity, race, gender, sexual preference, appearance, religion, (dis)ability, and so on. It supposedly ensures a fair go for all; but mixed in with it is a twist of fear and anxiety. The practical problems of maintaining a dialogue in today’s diverse democratic societies have given language a new volatility. One of the most dramatic outcomes of globalization is the massive flow of business travelers, tourists, refugees and migrants. This has produced an intermingling of people and cultures on an unprecedented scale that exposes us to other people’s parochialism and expectations of civility and religion, which can differ strikingly from our own. How do we engage everyone equally in discussion when you don’t have a clue about their culture or their views on life? Especially when we are not entitled to expect that the people we insult and demean will pretend not to be insulted and demeaned. Social commentator Phillip Adams is right when he says we live in times of increasing need for niceness. In the west, diversity is sacrosanct, but often at odds with our responses to difference and non-conformity. Sometimes, difference is distasteful; it makes us angry, fearful, insecure and vulnerable. What most people want, it seems, is the comfort of the familiar.


Verbal taboos are imposed by social conventions; they strengthen social cohesion and serve human interests by censoring out bald mention of things which threaten danger, distress and offence. Practical problems of maintaining dialogue make attention to face saving critical if we are to negotiate a way through the tensions and differences that must arise between disparate individuals and groups of people.


But the reality is far more complex; for instance, a speaker’s won self-image and future needs may also be better satisfied by orthophemism and euphemism, because what goes around comes around. PC language is motivated by the same drive to be polite and inoffensive as language orthophemism and euphemism; so, much PC language is euphemistic. But in this emotive discourse, words get politicized and used as ideological bludgeons. Whereas we generally use euphemism for the sake of social etiquette, in the political correctness arena it becomes a political gesture – in-your-face euphemism with an attitude.


Despite the public hankering for a kind of ‘no-frills’, euphemism-free language, sanitized from politically correct jargon, humankind would have to be reinvented for this to come about. We need a way of talking about taboo topics. we need strategies for speaking to and about others, particularly others perceived to be disadvantaged, oppressed and different from ourselves; people who may be overly suspicious of our motives and overly sensitive to what we say, finding slight where none was intended. PC language was often consciously devised to ease the difficulties that arise in this volatile area of interpersonal relations. Disfavoured terms were proscribed, and preferred alternatives prescribed. And yet the censorship has always been more between the lines than overt. The PC restrictions on speech are mostly self-imposed with speakers unwilling to run the risk of being judged to violate the accepted code for their context of utterance. (Allen % Burridge, Forbitten Words, pp.105-111)