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My question is whether "politisch korrekt" conveys the same meaning as "politically correct" does in English or is there another term that describes this better?

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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It's exactly the same meaning and usage. In fact, the words have been translated literally, the meaning imported into German from English. I don't know about the English connotation, but in German, it can have a negative connotation. It tends to complicate language by forcing statements to be gender-neutral and non-offensive to societal minorities.

Taken to its extreme, the negative connotation of PC is considered by some as a form of censorship by dodging the issue through noting a lack of PC in a statemnt. "Politically Incorrect" is the (probably ironic) name of a German blog that, depending on your view, spreads "forbidden" or "suppressed" (i.e. politically incorrect) news and views and as such is a herald of freedom; or it spouts hate speech against foreigners, muslims, jews, and other old and new targets of the extreme right/Neo-Nazi scene.

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Note: PI is explicitly pro-Israel, but +1 for the rest of your post. –  0x6d64 Aug 31 '11 at 13:33
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If we talk about language, you could use the term "diskriminierungsfreie Sprache", but it ist not that often used. –  0x6d64 Aug 31 '11 at 13:39
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"Politisch korrekt" in German means to say or use something the proper way, because zeitgeist or accepted ethical norms demands it. Doing it "politisch unkorrekt" is not a crime, but considered being clumsy or being provocatively ignorant.

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Depending on what you try to express with "PC", whether it is more or less opportunistic, cowardly, streamlined, diplomatic or what else. Most often 'politically correct' is used nowadays, but of course it isn't a new phenomen, and was observed in former times. 20 years ago, it wasn't used in Germany, afaik, but instead more specific terms were used, depending on the context and what should be expressed:

  • opportunistisch
  • feige
  • stromlinienförmig
  • angepaßt
  • ein Fähnchen im Wind
  • ein Wendehals
  • diplomatisch
  • konfliktscheu
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I think your synonyms are concentrating on the negative meanings of "PC" only. It can also be "PC" to use non-discriminatory words or to adress male and female readers alike (instead of using only male forms). "PC" is used when the normative aspect of something is to be highlighted, even when widely accepted (and hence not necessarily negative) norms are involved. But your synonym collection suggests only the negative implications. –  Ray Sep 1 '11 at 7:38
    
If you think stromlinienförmig, angepaßt and diplomatisch have a negative meaning, that is your problem. –  user unknown Sep 1 '11 at 9:15
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Thoughts on semantics are not "my" problem. Your synonym list conveys a certain meaning for PC which does not cover all uses of PC. Please try to take fair comments not as personal attacks that only need to be shrugged off. –  Ray Sep 1 '11 at 11:51
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"Feige", as well as "Opportunistisch" and its synonyms are very far-fetched and don't have a direct relation to "PC". They imply that "PC" is used only for one's personal advantage and against one's inner convictions. That is not necessarily the reason for expressing in a PC way. "Diplomatisch" and, more negative, "angepasst" are a better fit. "Konfliktscheu" is an over-interpretation. –  Hackworth Sep 1 '11 at 15:18
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I wanted to clarify my post, but Depending on what you try to express with "PC" is already the first sentence of my question. In my experience, PC was always used at least to express a mild form of opportunism. Most people who agree on gender-neutral-speach for example directly talk about gender-neutral-speach, and not about PC. –  user unknown Sep 1 '11 at 15:51
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