Does diversity Speak make the Language incomprehensible?
There are two opposing tendencies: On the one hand, there is a growing understanding that communication must become more comprehensible. No one is happy about complex language, complex language is rarely appealing and certainly does not encourage people to read something voluntarily. Understanding of this has grown in recent years, after all there are several DIN committees that deal with it. When a standard for Plain Language is available in a few years, it could give the topic the decisive boost it has lacked so far.
- Diversity speak is complex
- The community is not the problem
- Complexity with no end
- Diversity will not be accecpted
- Read more
Diversity speak is complex
The opposite trend is what one can boldly call Diversity Speak: ever more complex forms for designating people or groups of people. An example: In the past, "disabled" was considered appropriate as a term, "cripple" and similar was and is considered derogatory or insulting. At some point the term "disabled people" came up, which is not intended to reduce people to their disability. Today we say "people with disabilities". That should be better than "disabled people" for reasons, unfortunately I didn't understand the explanation.
By that logic, I should actually say "person with visual impairment", "person with hearing impairment", and so on. Recently, however, I had an autistic woman explain to me that she would like to be referred to as "autistic" and not "person with autism". Again, I didn't understand the explanation. A deaf person reported back to me saying "deaf" instead of "hearless" (a common term in German), the explanation... you know.
The community is not the problem
Now I'm not in the various communities and don't know the internal discourses. But I'm quite sure that most of those affected find that discussion as important as the weather of the last year. In my experience, outside of the self-help bubble, nobody cares. The discourse is led by a predominantly academic minority, very loud in publications and social media.
For those who are interested: These language theories are based primarily on the French structuralists such as Derrida and Foucault, who for their part are hardly legible. There are also fashion trends such as the framing approach. Yes, language plays a role in perception, but in my view the relevance of signs and terms is greatly overestimated once the clearly offensive terms have been removed from the language.
It's not attractive to write on diverse persons
The problem is that this conceptual confusion of Babylonian proportions makes discourse incredibly difficult. It makes writing and speaking very complicated because you always have to think about who might feel offended by those who are listening or reading along. Often enough, it is not those affected who speak up, but other people who think they have understood the complicated codes exactly and now have to instruct a disabled person. The shitstorm culture on the web means that trifles are just as inflated as real insults - the Internet knows no difference. And most non-affected people just join in to show their bladder how cosmopolitan they are.
And more importantly, it is extremely disruptive to understanding. "Disabled" is one word, "people with disabilities" are three words. A reading professional quickly ignores this, while an infrequent reader finds it more difficult. Now the problem would be manageable if such formulations were rare, but such and similar formulations occur several times in texts and can certainly lengthen the text by several percent. If this is also gendered and migrated, this can quickly make the text unreadable. Last but not least, that's not the only reason why texts are complicated and difficult to read. In addition, there is technical jargon, tapeworm sentences, compounds and a non-reader-friendly design.
Complexity with no end
The trend is not over, my impression is rather that the increase in complex diversity formulas knows no end. "Functional illiterate" should now be called "poorly literate". In my opinion, nothing has been achieved with this, apart from frowning among people who have not yet come across the latter term. Today, many people write in their profile alongside cryptic abbreviations how they want to be addressed "He/him", "She/her", nice if you put your gender out like that, until then I didn't really care. Now it just increases the amount of characters the screen reader reads.
You say it goes without saying, I say there is no law of nature. At least I wasn't asked if I think "foreigners" are better than "people with a migration background". It reminds me of fashion trends that I don't understand either. Last year it was green stripes, this year blue dots - who cares? And what authority actually determines that?
Diversity will not be accecpted
Let me put it bluntly: if diversity-sensitive language means that language is becoming more and more complex, then it excludes those who read little and speak foreign languages. This is certainly not inclusive or diversity-friendly. It surprises and annoys me that those responsible do not address this contradiction or even deny it.
I have no solution for this problem. We certainly don't want to go back to the days when dark-skinned people or other people were given derogatory terms. But we build ourselves a trap by making the codes more and more complicated. This contradicts the principle of comprehensible communication.
Or: We admit to ourselves that these codes are more important to us than comprehensible language. Then we exclude people who are already disadvantaged, but maybe that's unavoidable. In my opinion, on the one hand, people are losing out on the real issue of reducing discrimination in language and images. But we also lose them for all other issues that could be important to us and them. Understanding content and understanding for each other - isn't that connected in some way?