Police-officer or pigs? on the use of language in FIASKO

The following article describes a discussion about termonaligy in german. The FIASKO would like to point out that the points being made (1-8) are not tied to any languae specifically.

As usual, following the launch of the last issue of FIASKO, an open discussion event was held, intenting to be a platform for evaluation and suggestions for the magazin. One subject that was discussed and criticized on that event was the use of language in FIASKO. Terms like „Bullen“ (meaning=the police, comparative in english to „the cops“) and „Knast“ (meaning=prison, comparative in english to „can“, „jug“) would be chilling and put some of the readers off. These readers might label the magazin as „far left“. This might diminish the range of the magazin, because some people would not feel addressed and might slip into a defensive attitude twards FIASKO.
This magazin defines itself as a critial intervention against migration-regimes and with that, an overall criticism of our society follows. One could say, this is „far left“. Some questions come up: Who‘s afraid of this position? And why? What does it mean to us that some people take FIASKO that way? Who do we want to reach? And by what means? How can we make content and points of view clear and at the same time mediate them in a way that readers are open to them altough some topics and formulations are uncommon or new to them? With the following points we would like to address the criticism of the use of language and share some thoughts on this point at issue:


1. The (German) language is an expression of the patriarchal system, that we live in today. So to speak it would be desirable that with new conceptions there is room for new terms, words and even sentence structure. If so it is possible to give rise to new thinking structures.

2. We see a connection between the use of language and critique of society. For example the gender star (*) used in german or the use of the term „geflüchtete Person“ instead of the patronising term „Flüchtling“. We welcome a courageous handling of language and terminology.

3. Consistancy plays an important role. If someone stumbles accross a word that provokes her/him, this can lead to lack of comprehension and dissociation. At the same time this will perhaps spark a fundamental content-related discussion.

4. One can argue over terminology and the use of language. In this example in perticular we belive that using terms like „Gefängnis“ instead of „Knast („prison“ – „can“) and „Polizist*innen“ instead of „Bullen“ (Policeman/Policewoman – „Cop“) can be downplaying in certain context. The language loses it’s clarity. At the same time one can criticise that these terms that are more conventional do not promote new images, do not encourage a new way of thinking and can not be used in a unexpected way. So to speak they remain in a certain slang.

5. The FIASKO-Kollektiv does not have a homogeneous language (with a few exceptions, see pont 8).It is important to us, that every author can decide individually which terminology they want to use. There are no set rules for the use of languguage, as you can see in this issue as well.

6. Having said that we want to make clear that we do not have an unambiguous position for such Terms, it wouldn’t be fitting to us. More important is that a concious, reflected and emancipatory use of language is applyed that fits the text that the author wrote.

7. To a concious handling of languague follows critical self-reflection. What happens when a term turns mainstream? Did the desired change happen or did the emancipatory character lose its meaning? Has the term become an empty words in meaningless phrase? Has the term become discriminating and excluding? etc.

8. Nervertheless, some limitations are important to us. In FIAKSO all texts (in german) should have gender stars. In this way people that do not, can not or don’t want to define themselfs as neither man or woman can be taken into account. Futhermore sexist, patriarchal, antsemetic, or discriminating use of language is gernerally unwanted.

…the next discussion-evening will follow and more texts aswell. Besides all that talking we should not forget to act, yalla!