Interview with Anika Maßmann from @wanderingmind_blog

I caught up with Anika to ask her a few questions about her guest post. Furthermore, I asked her about the topics she writes about.

Who are you? What do you do? And what do you write about?

Anika: I am a 25-year-old woman, who is interested in a lot of different things and therefore also has a lot of stuff going on in her head. Two of my main interests are literature and theatre – which is why I studied both. At the moment I’m writing on two blogs about things that matter to me. The first one is www.wanderingmind.de, where I now write about my thoughts on political, social and other topics. The second one is still very new and kind of a long cherished wish: www.drama-kein-drama.de tries to bring classical German literature, theatre and performing arts closer to young people by pointing out their up-to-dateness.

In your last blog post, you wrote about language and how sexist German is, why did you write about this?

Anika: I stumbled across this topic in a Facebook group. Some female bloggers discussed whether they should use gender-appropriate language in their posts. A lot of them didn’t want to do that and/or didn’t see the need to do it. For me it also only began in say the last two years or so, when I started to realise that language is more than just what we think. It’s the other way around: We think what we say. I began getting more sensitive about this topic during my studies. But not everyone has this academic background. So, I felt the need to talk about this important topic so that more people can learn about this.

In your guest post you talk about the differences between the English and German languages, has this always been an interest of yours? Or when did you start thinking about this?

Anika: Actually, I always thought, that the English language is not that sexist. There are simply no male or female forms like in German. But, when you asked me about a guest post I got curious if my assumption was right – and as I quickly learned during my research, it wasn’t.

In your view are languages fit for the 21st century? Or does something need to be done in order for everyone to be integrated?

Anika: We are slowly becoming more aware of the power of language. But there is still a long way to go. Often when talking about the gender-thing in German, people often come up with arguments like: “But if we include women in the language, we also have to include trans people and people without any gender and so on and so forth … So, just let’s leave everything as it is. Because it’s way too much effort.” And that for me is wrong. Of course, we are not there if we “only” include women. But we have to start somewhere and as women constitute 50% of the population, it only makes sense to start with this biggest group. 
And by the way: there are already efforts to also include other groups. For example, I have seen some people write “Frauen*” and with the asterisk they make clear that not only biological women are meant but also trans, fluid and what else there may be.

If there is something about the German and English languages that you find the most interesting, what are they?

Anika: In the German language I find it the most interesting, that you we can words together. Just put two words together and you have a new word. And the best thing is: You can do this endlessly. My favourite example: Flussschiffahrtskapitänsmützenknopf.
The other way around, in the English language I find it the most interesting that a lot of statements can be really shortened compared to German. If you place a German text next to its English translation, the translation is way shorter – and still precise. 

What can you tell people about how to be more aware of language and inclusion?

Anika: If you are someone who is writing texts, always think about who you are writing for and who you are writing about. If your audience is male, you probably won’t have to think about anything. But, if your audience is male and female, reread your text and make sure you are always talking to everyone you want to address.

What thing would you change about the German language? Why? And would you change something about the English? Why?

Anika: Change in language is always a process over decades and centuries. Obviously, we don’t talk anymore like we did 500 years ago. So, to all people who want to stop the change and for example complain about the run-down language between youths: deal with it, it will happen. And for this reason, I am pretty optimistic that the the whole sexist-language-problem in the German language will be solved sometime. But I really wish more people would be aware of this, so that the change would maybe come faster.

Whose responsibility is it that languages, in general, should change? Why?

Anika: It’s very important that public authorities, politicians, people of the public etc. use inclusive language. By this, I mean make it more common in everyone’s perception. And I hope that like this these changes stay in our minds. But at the same time, it’s crucial that everyone who already has this awareness keeps on talking about this.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Anika: Language is a powerful tool, and we have to use it with care.

Thank you for the interview!

And if any of you feel like reading for from Anika now, here is a link to her guest post on my blog: http://learnenglishwithtommy.com/how-sexist-is-the-english-language?/ and to Anika’s Blog’s https://wanderingmind.de and www.drama-kein-drama.de

Alternatively you can follow Anika on Instagram or Facebook.

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