The German term "BEN"

by Lawrence
(Ontario, California, USA)

Hi Joanna
I just recently heard the term "BEN" (which stands for "Betriebs Eigener Neger"). This sounded like an insult and, if so, is this more of an insult for a white person being called this name or for black people in general? I ask to understand the thinking of anyone using such a name. Thanks...

Comments for The German term "BEN"

Click here to add your own comments

Betriebs Eigener Neger (BEN)
by: Joanna

Hi Lawrence

I see you searched for the term on the web ? I found your entry and the answer from Wenz which I think is about right:

...Ein betriebseigener Neger ist zum Beispiel ein Arbeiter oder Angestellter, der "Service"-Arbeiten macht, die sehr schnell erledigt werden müssen. Zum Beispiel früher der Schreibmaschinenreparateur oder in der heutigen Zeit halt der Computerspezialist, der ganz schnell kommt, wenn ich ihn "anpiepse" (denn meistens sind diese Leute ja unterwegs bei anderen "Notfällen")...

I also found Betriebs Eigener Neger used in a discussion forum which suggests rather more negative undertones - someone at the bottom of an organisation?s food chain and thus required to carry out menial/boring tasks/at the drop of a hat/for little recognition/pay. I think the colour or race of the person being referred to as a BEN is certainly secondary to their social position.

My (Austrian) husband had never heard of it, and I suspect it might be somewhat outdated. In any case, not exactly PC and not very commonly used.

Hope this helps!


Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Q&As - My Free Translation Service For Visitors.

German to English Translation

Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

Find this page useful? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.