Wolfgang Pöckl - Woher kommt der schlechte Ruf der deutschen Wissenschaftssprache?
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Woher kommt der schlechte Ruf der deutschen Wissenschaftssprache?
Abstract German has always been considered a grammatically intricate and phonetically all but melodious tongue. So it was never – unlike Italian or French – a foreign language acquired with enthusiasm by European neighbours. In the course of the 19th century, however, German became the dominant language in many branches of knowledge and could therefore not be excluded from the sphere of scientific communication. But the books and articles published by German scholars and scientists showed a tendency towards (ab)using abstract notions and complex syntactic constructions – characteristics that did not contribute to the prestige of German as an academic language. So, when German and Austrian researchers were suspended from nearly all international professional associations after World War I, this was not only a politically motivated decision but also an initiative adopted especially by French, English and American peers with the intention of breaking the supremacy of German as a means of communication in the international scientific community. Today, “German-educated” scholars are often criticized by Anglophone researchers because, even when writing in English, they do not respect conventional standards of English expository texts such as linearity, symmetry, continuity, or the use of reader-friendly strategies (such as, for instance, advance organizers).
Keywords: German, scientific language, academic style, language conflict, language stereotypes
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