German dictionary says the word 'Jew' can be 'discriminatory'

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Fair-goers walk past an oversized Duden dictionary of "Correct German Spelling" at the international Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany on October 4, 2006.
John MacDougall/AFPFair-goers walk past an oversized Duden dictionary of "Correct German Spelling" at the international Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany on October 4, 2006.

Schuster says 'everything should be done to avoid solidifying the term as discriminatory'

Duden, a German-language dictionary, is facing pushback from the country’s Jewish community over a disclaimer on its definition for “Jew” which said that the term can be “perceived as discriminatory.”

A reference note below the term “Jude” - the German word for “Jew” - said that it occasionally “is perceived as discriminatory because of the memory of its use during the Nazi era.”

“In these cases, formulations such as Jewish people, Jewish fellow citizens, or people of Jewish faith are usually chosen,” the dictionary recommended.

The disclaimer drew a critical response from President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster, who spoke out against its inclusion.

“For me, the word ‘Jew’ is neither a swear word nor discriminatory,” the president explained to the German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).

He suggested that the disclaimer itself could in fact strengthen a negative connotation perceived by the word.

“Even if ‘Jew’ is used in a derogatory manner in schoolyards or only hesitantly by some people, and the Duden editorial staff certainly meant well by referring to this context, everything should be done to avoid solidifying the term as discriminatory,” Schuster stressed.

German language specialist Kathrin Kunkel-Razum, who leads Duden’s editorial team, responded that she understands the disclaimer’s criticism, and that further cementing a possible discriminatory connotation was “not our intention in any way,” dpa reported.

The editorial team has since said that they will conduct a review of the disclaimer, according to The Jerusalem Post

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