Examples of Inclusive Language
Race and ethnicity
In North America, people talk about “race.” In Europe, you bring up the ideologies of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust simply by using the word. Instead, people refer to the construct as “ethnic background,” if at all. Offering inclusive alternatives, Witty detects xenophobe language and terms that are – or are read as – racist. This includes words that read as references to enslavement. Witty also highlights expressions that reveal a hidden bias, for example, against cultural backgrounds, migration, or skin color.
Gender bias & stereotypes
Gender bias and stereotypes are deeply ingrained in how we think and speak. Witty detects misogynist language and patriarchal concepts of leadership. It highlights words like masculine generics that undercut the representation of women and gender non-conforming people. In essence, Witty points out expressions that limit people to traditional gender roles, gender identities, and gender expressions. All while suggesting alternatives and offering inspiration to help you rethink how you frame ideas.
Class bias is so pervasive it can be difficult to notice. But some research teams see classism as the biggest hurdle to making inclusion a reality for all. Witty offers inclusive alternatives in two areas of class bias. It identifies words that display prejudice or discriminate against social classes in English and German texts. Witty also highlights overly formal German expressions that could be perceived as condescending.
Faith-based belief systems and organized religions have shaped – and, for many, continue to shape – how we frame ideas and communicate ethics and values. By using stories and pictures in our heads to share ideas, religions have played a vital role in forming and cultivating stereotypes. Even people who don’t believe or are intensely private about their faith use language shaped by the religions that dominate the culture they live in. Witty detects slurs, antisemitism, and islamophobia but also points out more subtle faith-based expressions at odds with promoting cultural and religious diversity.
Whenever we meet people, our brains automatically check for three things – ethnicity, gender, and age. This conditioned response is a survival strategy from our deep past. Today, people live much longer. How old you are no longer determines how you live your life. But when it comes to age groups and generations, we still think in stereotypes. Witty suggests alternatives when it detects hidden bias against people under 25 or over 50. Witty also warns you when you ask clients or candidates about their age. Not only can people experience the question as offensive, but the fact that you are asking at all could indicate age discrimination.
Inclusive language shows you respect and accept all sexual orientations and all gender identities and expressions. In addition to detecting homophobe and transphobic language, Witty offers inclusive alternatives to words and phrases expressing more subtle, often unconscious, biases against non-conforming gender identities or sexual orientations.
Most of us were taught to believe that having a disability suggests otherness. However, 15% of the world’s population experiences some form of disability (World Bank). Witty offers inclusive alternatives to words and phrases that pigeonhole people living with disabilities and conditions. It detects ableist slurs and biases in eleven dimensions, from vision, hearing, and speech to learning, cognitive perception, and mental well-being.
Empty phrases and filler words are language clutter. They make messages more difficult to understand, especially for people whose first language isn’t English or German. Exaggerations let your audience question the credibility of your statements. And although common in business communications, abbreviations, acronyms, and anglicisms require more brain power to interpret. They’re tiring to read and more likely to be misunderstood. Witty alerts you to potential style issues, and its suggested alternatives help you keep communications clear, credible, and easy to understand. In German, Witty also suggests corrections for plain language ("Leichte Sprache").
Well done! Witty highlights inclusive words and phrases you use in your writing. These inclusive expressions emphasize cooperation, improve representation, and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Want to detect all these biases in your writing?
In this blogpost, we explain in 7 steps how to create an Inclusive Language Guide to promote a more inclusive workplace (plus a ready-to-use Template for 2023).
Not using inclusive language in a personal context has social consequences. Not using it in a business context has economic costs. But what is inclusive language, anyway?