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?


4 Answers 4


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 statement. "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.

  • Note: PI is explicitly pro-Israel, but +1 for the rest of your post.
    – 0x6d64
    Aug 31, 2011 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, 2011 at 13:39
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    0x6d64: if anything, then "diskriminierungsfreie Sprache" is simply an oxymoron. Because the very point of a language is to discriminate traits (adjectives) and activities (verbs) and objects, people and events (nouns) respectively. Mar 7, 2016 at 15:26
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    i don't like the PC term - neither in german nor in english. It often describes what it is: POLITCALLY correct, not necessarily socially accepted or of individual will. In most cases it doesn't transport, what is really meant but connotes certain politricks. political correctness also often results in unnecessarily inflated speech. i like direct expressions and not softened / weakened blabla... For conditioner i visit my hairdresser. But yes: politically correct is translated to "politisch korrekt"
    – user22338
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:39

"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.


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

Note, that the expression is almost always used, to describe somebody else. It will be hard to find anybody, who describes himself as pc.

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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, 2011 at 7:38
  • If you think stromlinienförmig, angepaßt and diplomatisch have a negative meaning, that is your problem. Sep 1, 2011 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, 2011 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, 2011 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. Sep 1, 2011 at 15:51

Germans do not need their own word for that - For the rare cases were we use it, the English term works quite well. Political correctness plays (maybe apart from politics itself) a much smaller role in German society than it does, for example, in the United States. Most people don't care beyond simply "behaving".

And no, the direct translation does in my opinion not (maybe, not yet) transport the same notation as the English term in German. "Politisch" refers to politics in German - nothing else. "Angepasste Sprache" or the original English term tends to work better in most cases.

Although this discussion does not belong here, it is hard to resist to challenge that changing language by kind of disapproving of certain terms could possibly change mindsets. Someone who thinks "cripple" will most probably not start to think different if you tell him to use "handycapped".

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