The following notes will use scientific English correctly

Particularly in the field of natural sciences, the English language is becoming more and more prevalent as a scientific language. German students are therefore increasingly confronted with reading English-language specialist texts. In addition, it is possible in some departments to write your own scientific texts in English. This development is not only a big concern for linguists. Many students are also overwhelmed by the constant change between scientific German and scientific English.

There are some differences between the two scientific languages. You have to pay attention to them. In addition, German students often find it difficult to adequately reproduce their findings in the English language, since similar precise expressions as in German are scarcely possible. Below you can find out more about the difference between scientific German and scientific English and about the possibilities of quoting English citations in German works.

Write a professional article in English?

In principle, a multilingualism is to be advocated. As the own horizon can be extended and the worldwide communication possibilities can be increased. Especially in scientific operation, the spread of the English language causes some problems. Certainly it is advantageous that specialist articles from German students and scientists can be easily understood if they are written in the English language and not in the respective national language of the publisher. If it comes to writing even works in English, German students despair regularly.

The differences between scientific German and scientific English may seem rather insignificant. In fact, you have a big impact on the quality of the written work:

Starting with the citation method, the correct reference to the structural structure of the entire work – the small differences have a decisive effect on the final result.

In addition, Germans find it rather difficult to express themselves accurately in English. The German language offers far more possibilities. In English, this option is often lacking because terms are quite “spongy” and do not allow for sharp, unequivocal reproduction.

Linguists see this as a danger to the quality of the entire scientific operation. Above all, students see this as a problem when writing a scientific paper. In general, it should be noted that scientific papers require a feeling for the language used – in the mother tongue this usually works better.

Since this text should not be a linguistic essay, but a concrete guide for students, the following lines are dedicated to the concrete differences between the two scientific languages, which must be observed when writing a scientific paper.

The citation way

In principle, the citation method prescribed by the respective department of the university or college must be used. In German works, the German citation is usually used, in English, however, the American citation. These differ mainly by the other form of indication of the sources. In the German citation, an exact indication of the source in a footnote. The American citation way indicates the source directly in the text.

Another difference in the way of quoting is the commas. In English works, a comma is usually placed before “and” and “&” and this is not the case in German works.

Name information

Names are given in German and English basically the same way. Only with name additions there are differences. In the English language this is part of the surname and is stated accordingly. In German, however, it is a suffix of the name that is not assigned to either the first or last name. The statement in English is therefore “von Goethe, J W”. In German, on the other hand, it would read “Goethe, J.W. from”.

The date

Especially when referring to texts that have appeared in scientific journals, the specification of the exact date is of importance. In English, the date is first the month, then the day and year. In German, however, the day is first called. Such information is of great importance, since otherwise it may be confused with other editions of the journal in question.

Scientific English – incorporation of citations in German works

Another difficulty is the use of English citations in German works. In such a case, although the work is written in German, English sources are used. German students often ask themselves the question in which form these sources should be given. Generally valid, this question can not be answered. It is advisable to consult with the supervisor of the work and comply with his wishes regarding the reproduction of English-language quotes. Most faculty members wish to have the English quote translated directly into English.

Only a few require a translation into German from their students.

If the lecturer does not communicate any rules or wishes regarding the procedure, it makes sense to provide the English-language citations in English. A translation should be waived in this case. However, it is advisable to keep the English-language passages in italics and thus to clearly identify them.