German dictionary says the word ‘Jew’ is discriminatory

“For me, the word ‘Jew’ is neither a swear word nor discriminatory,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told German media Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

 People demonstrate in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in Berlin (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)
People demonstrate in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in Berlin
(photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)

Germany’s leading “Duden” dictionary, the world’s foremost German-language dictionary, is under fire from Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, after their online dictionary entry for “Jude” – the German word for Jew – contained a disclaimer saying that the word could be used in a discriminatory fashion.

“For me, the word ‘Jew’ is neither a swear word nor discriminatory,” Schuster told German media Deutsche Presse-Agentur while pointing out that the association he heads is called the “Central Council of Jews”.

“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 explained.

The head of the Duden editorial team, Kathrin Kunkel-Razum, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that the editors take the criticism very seriously  – specifically that a discrimination disclaimer could in on of itself be perceived as discriminatory. "I can understand that, but that's not our intention in any way," Kunkel-Razum said.

 ''Duden'' German-language dictionary. (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS) ''Duden'' German-language dictionary. (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The disclaimer has been found in the “Duden” entry since 2007, and online since 2011. The Duden editorial team has since announced that they will review the disclaimer in question.