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Racist terms in children's books divide Germans
Photo: DPA

Racist terms in children's books divide Germans

Published: 20 Jan 2013 12:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2013 12:38 GMT+01:00

Those questioned by the Emnid Institute, which conducted the survey of 500 people who are 14 or over on behalf of the newspaper, were split 50 percent in favor of removing the controversial words to 48 percent against.

East-West differences were substantial, with 52 percent of Germans in the western part of the country calling for words like nigger out of children’s texts to 37 percent in the eastern region.

People who were more educated were more against changing the texts, the survey showed. Some 85 percent of those without formal training wanted the texts changed compared to 37 percent who had completed higher education.

The discussion as to whether the texts should be changed began after Family Minister Kristina Schröder told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit that when she reads stories like “Pippi Longstocking” to her children she substitutes words like Neger, which can mean be used to mean both negro and nigger in German.

Those reading from newer editions of the children’s classic don’t have to worry about replacing undesirable words. Since 2009 the book has been published with the work “Negro King” replaced with “South Sea King.”

The publisher of “The Little Witch” (Die kleine Hexe) plans to remove the word negress from the story. Otfried Preußler, the author, recently gave up his resistance to changing the word.

The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:54 January 20, 2013 by albertbrettermeier
In over 40 years of studying German language and culture, as well as discussing the topic with many native German speakers, I have never heard anyone make the point that "Neger" is used as "nigger" is in English. I think that's just incorrect. It has become politically incorrect, I believe because it sounds like "nigger".
15:36 January 20, 2013 by jodendal
think they should change it... if I was told from a young age that a word like "nigger" or "neger" is okay then why would I think of it as bad when I am older... habits are hard to brake when you get older but easier to shape when you younger...
15:54 January 20, 2013 by catjones
Teach your children well.

My guess is those who oppose the change are neither gypsy nor negro.
16:18 January 20, 2013 by SockRayBlue
I do find it fascinating that words used by white Europeans are the ones being called in question while all the other racial slurs used by everyone else on the planet Earth is allowed. Quite funny indeed that "Whites" are the ones called "rascists" when the real truth is that non-whites are worse and seek to muzzle others' language.
16:34 January 20, 2013 by Repatriated
The Germans are following suit right behind the American liberals to bend over backwards to be politically correct, even to the point of changing the texts in literature written many years ago. The alteration of the original text in Tom Sawyer being a classic case in the States.

So while we are at it let's change the song "Lustig ist das Zigeunerleben" to Lustig ist das Roma und Sinti Leben." Or how about contacting Knorr and demand that they change the their Knorr Fix pre-packaged product from "Paprika-Gulasch Zigeuner Art" to "Paprika-Gulasch Roma und Sinti Art." Come on guys...give it a break.

Is a white man born in South African living in America also called an African American just like most of the blacks born in the States prefer to call themselves African Americans rather than Black Americans. By the same logic then most of the whites born in the States should call themselves European Americans, after all, they originated in Europe. How far do the liberals want to stretch politcal correctness?

Incidentally, Neger in German is not equivalent to Nigger in English. It refers to the Negro race (Negroid).
17:07 January 20, 2013 by raandy
Common sense died a while back, in its place we have Politically Correct, with no end in correctness. Liberalism is PCs best friend.
17:28 January 20, 2013 by Eric1
Asians aren't PC, Arab's certainly aren't PC, Africans aren't PC, Hispanics aren't PC. Why is it expected that Caucasians in the Western World should be. The whole concept of Politically Correctness is to control people by demonization. The group leftist and communist want to control are Caucasians. It's an uncomfortable fact for many to grasp but it's obvious.
17:39 January 20, 2013 by ChrisRea
Why is it "Gipsy" (Zigeuner) politically incorrect/racist? I never met a Gipsy/Zigeuner/R(r)oma/Sinti that would feel offended by this word. On the contrary. Many of their organisations carry the word in their own name. Shakespeare used it as well. So who exactly decided that "Gipsy" is a racist word?
20:14 January 20, 2013 by www.emungus.net
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
03:44 January 21, 2013 by wood artist
Books (generally) reflect the times in which they were written, or perhaps the times that they seek to portray. In that sense, to excise the word "nigger" or "negro" from something like To Kill a Mockingbird would make the book seem hopelessly out of touch with the time being described. While it may be comforting to some to remove words that no longer seem appropriate, the fact is those words were used. Better to leave them in, and use literature as a tool to teach children and young adults about the reality of the times and how we have attempted to deal with such matters. If this means parents and teachers have to work a little harder then so be it. Providing an education and knowledge is part of the job, and that means explaining things sometimes.

Although I grew up in the "north" during my lifetime we went from Negros (and yes, niggers at least in some places) to Blacks to African-Americans. Fortunately I had parents who explained things to me as a child, trusting that I could use the appropriate word and understand when others didn't. The same was true of the classic "swear words." We cannot cleanse the world and make everything PC. It never was, and never will be...partly because PC is a moving target. We can, however, use those changes for teaching.

wa
05:16 January 21, 2013 by Bulldawg82
I don't wish to insult anyone and I won't use racists terms that are knowingly (and historically) racist, but I will not acquiesce to those who are constantly changing the rules and words that can be used as if some supreme council of racist words exists. The enemy to political correctness is freedom. Dare to live free and speak your mind. If you are chastised for it, then that is the freedom the opposition enjoying it as well. Never give in to those who would curb your freedom of thought and speech.
07:24 January 21, 2013 by Wrench
Okay! a notice to all liberals:

From now on I no longer wish to be referred as "Elderly"

Henceforth it shall be "Chronologically Challenged"

I no longer wish to be called a "Biker"

Now---2 wheeled Motor Enthusiast

I am so sick of this liberal, crying bullsh$t. There are plenty of other issues of the day to be of concern.
09:33 January 21, 2013 by jodessa
I can call you a Neger and get away with it....but if I call you an A-hole or give you the finger, i might be sued for thousands of Euros for Beleidigung. Awareness is key. If a word offends someone, don't use it. Don't assume it is OK just because you don't "mean" it to hurt someone else.

The fact that this is in the news is good. Make people aware. Stop pointing out people's differences as a negative or predominant trait, and celebrate them instead. I think differences are wonderful and should be talked about but not skin color or slanted eyes, or big noses, or anything we can not change about ourselves....

If the books should be changed? I don't know. It was a part of history. I think it's funny that they were able to change the part in Pippi where she plays with guns with Tommy and Annika. The German version has her telling them to put them away since they are dangerous. But again.....is it right to change this since it was written this way to reflect a period of time??

The problem is, any good parents would explain to their kids, "Hey, many people dont like this name. It hurts their feelings. Lets change it to ......" Or "Today we know that playing with guns is really dangerous. "....

My 2 Cents.
11:04 January 21, 2013 by raandy
Wrench LOL, excellent! hopefully you are not vertically challenged
22:13 January 21, 2013 by trevzns
@albertbrettmeire # 1 @Repatriatedd #5 @ www.emungus.net

Nigger, neger, negro or any other variation of the word is disparaging. The classification and treatment of African people by europeans as subhuman and inferior speaks for its self. The centuries for Germans, Swedish, and others naming African people, whatever their enlighten european minds decide is appropriate, is over.

Political Correction is Liberalism best friend. Dumb and Dumber are also best friends.
22:19 January 21, 2013 by septiSeverus
@Repatriatedd #5

What Negroid race? There is only one human race. Who decided to call african people negro?
07:14 January 22, 2013 by Repatriated
@septi Severus:

I see that you've never taken Anthropology 101
10:13 January 22, 2013 by lalomartins
I fear too much discarding history, and unnecessary sanitizing our culture so much that children don't even know bad behaviour exists. They should be encouraged against it, not kept in ignorance. For racist terms, sexism, slavery, and other things that used to be ok, I'm in favour of keeping the original, and adding footnotes.
13:05 January 22, 2013 by Redwing
I have never heard the German word Neger used derogatively. It is derived from Spanish via the Latin word for black "niger". If people insist on changing children's books to be pc, please also delete the word "niger" from all Latin texts and dictionaries.
13:32 January 22, 2013 by raandy
trevzns so is weird and weirder.
21:23 January 23, 2013 by trevzns
@raandy #20

Then we have a mutual understanding.
23:11 January 23, 2013 by septiSeverus
@Rsdwing #19

Ok. The word niger is from Latin. When the Romans first arrived in Britain or Germany. What Latin word did the Romans use to describe the black African mercenaries of the Roman Empire that occupied Europe? Oh. And by the way, during this period in European history. The British, Germans and Scandinavians, etc., had no numerical or written text.

The Heiliges Romisches Reich - The Holy Roman Empire. What non-offensive word or phrase was used by the Germans, Austrians, Swiss, Romans and the Pope, to identify or describe the black African mercenaries of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe? There is a reason why some Germans, Europeans and tourists from around the world visit Magdeburg, Germany annually?

For more European-African history 101. Pre-Catholic Church, pre- Protestant, and pre-Church of England. Google: Pope Benedict XVI coat of arms. Also, for ID namesake: Google Septimius Severus.
06:47 January 31, 2013 by Icke Ricke
Hello my German ancestors! DO NOT change your precious words people of Deutschland; it's all smokescreen rhetoric... For instance, it is no problem for people to say (Mr.) Schwarzenegger here in the States and there is absolutely no push for the Spanish not to say Negro when they describe something that is black, so why should you change?
16:01 February 10, 2013 by ATM
I remember hearing this word (Neger ) the first time at a party. I as a Black Man from America thought these people were really ignorant or had lost their mind. My wife chilled me out and explained it was not the same as N--ger. I explained to some people I know I would not use the word at an event where there were Black People because before you had a chance to explain the word the damage would be done. There is not too much difference to the ear when these words are said with an accent. Not sure if the text of books should be changed because that was the way it was and is sometimes. Perhaps the publisher can just add a statement saying the word may be offensive to some readers etc.
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