Science language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scientific language is a technical language . It is used for professional communication in scientific discourses . Scientific language is strongly formalized and standardized (technical style); formalization and standardization are more pronounced in some scientific disciplines than in others.

In scientific languages, the association between technical terms and their designates is often established by defining them. The interpretation of calculi requires expressly formulated naming rules. In practice, definitions are made through terminology and dictionaries , among other things .


In addition to the special technical vocabulary, the scientific language is also characterized by peculiarities of syntax . In an essay from 1989, the linguist Harald Weinrich (in a somewhat pointed way) pointed out three (unconscious) "prohibitions" as a special feature of scientific language:

  • A scientist doesn't say "I".
  • A scientist does n't tell .
  • A scientist doesn't use metaphors .

As a reason for all three prohibitions, Weinrich accepts the requirement of objectivity in science, whereby scientists try to abstract from their own standpoints and opinions. The first ban was confirmed empirically (by counting the use in scientific texts). Instead, either passive constructions or ascriptions in the third person (“the author”) are common. The second prohibition is also supposed to emphasize the particular objectivity, according to which the description (description) is at the center. If narrative passages are necessary, they are not used in the past tense , which is more reminiscent of novels and literary stories, but rather in the perfect tense . Weinrich's third prohibition has been criticized many times, since at least in some sciences a great many metaphorical expressions are coined and used (e.g. particle physics ).

Historical overview

Time and again in history, a uniform scientific language, in the sense of the definition of a single language (e.g. English), has been called for. The following is intended to give a historical overview of the change in the predominant single language in science.

As the first language of science in ancient West can be due to the cultural achievements of Greece , the Greek look. This continued in Roman times, when Greek was recognized on an equal footing with Latin throughout the entire Roman Empire . Only in the course of the Middle Ages did Latin gain acceptance as the sole scientific language. It was considered a minor “crime” not to publish in Latin. Works that were not written in Latin were not considered scientific.

In the Arab-Indian region, Arabic was also the language of science, since the Koran was written in Arabic and Islam was spreading rapidly. Very soon the ancient knowledge was translated from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic, for example in the Baghdad House of Wisdom . Islamic polymaths such as Avicenna , Alhazen and Averroes preserved the ancient knowledge and developed it further. Often the Arabic works were translated into Latin by Europeans (example: Toledo School of Translators ).

While around three quarters of the printed texts were still printed in Latin in the 15th century , it was the other way around in the 16th century. In the course of humanism , Latin was increasingly being replaced as the sole scientific language.

The German had later - almost a century - the status of the world's three leading scientific languages (besides English and in French), as created numerous inventions and new scientific knowledge in German-speaking countries in the 19th century and early 20th century.

After the two world wars, English became the leading language in most areas of international academic exchange. This is due on the one hand to the rule of the British Empire , on the other hand to the position of the USA as a world power and to the two world wars themselves. The exodus of the German-Jewish intelligentsia during the National Socialist dictatorship and of the German intelligentsia in the years after 1945 also played a major role, as many scientists emigrated to the USA.

In the opinion of the German Cultural Council , the scientific language of German is practically irrelevant in the natural sciences , with only 1% of the corresponding articles appearing in German. The interdisciplinary conference “German in Science” from November 10 to 12, 2011 in Essen dealt with this topic. It was organized by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Goethe Institute and the Institute for the German Language (IDS).

See also


  • Ulrich Ammon : Is German still an international scientific language? English also for teaching at German-speaking universities. de Gruyter, Berlin a. a. 1998, ISBN 3-11-016149-4 , (Review) .
  • Ulrich Ammon: The position of the German language in the world. Berlin 2015.
  • Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences : The language of science - the language of scientists. In: Gegenworte , 7th issue, spring 2001 (special issue with 18 articles on this topic), ISSN 1435-571X.
  • Friedhelm Debus et al. (Hrsg.): German as a scientific language in the 20th century. Lectures at the International Symposium from 18./19. January 2000. Steiner et al., Stuttgart et al. 2000, ISBN 3-515-07862-2 ( Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz. Treatises of the humanities and social sciences class, year 2000, no. 10).
  • Martina Drescher: Language of Science, Language of Reason. In: Stephan Habscheid and Ulla Fix (eds.): Group styles . Frankfurt am Main, 2003.
  • Ludwig M. Eichinger : Language of Science. Certificate of competence and social symbol. In: einblick , issue 3/2004, pp. 15-16, ISSN 0933-128X.
  • Helga Esselborn-Krumbiegel: Write scientifically correctly. Scientific language in rules and exercises. UTB Schöningh, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8252-3429-4 .
  • Gabriele Graefen, Melanie Moll: Scientific language German: read - understand - write, a textbook and workbook. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2011, ISBN 978-3-631-60948-4 , (book presentation) .
  • Valentin Groebner : Scientific language. A manual. Konstanz University Press, Konstanz 2012, ISBN 978-3-86253-025-0 .
  • Bea Klüsener, Joachim Grzega: Scientific rhetoric . In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . WBG, Darmstadt 1992ff., Vol. 10 (2011), Col. 1486-1508.
  • Melanie Moll, Winfried Thielmann: Scientific German. Konstanz 2016, ISBN 978-3-8252-4650-1 .
  • Roswitha Reinbothe: German as an international scientific language and the boycott after the First World War. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2006.
  • Karsten Rinas, Birgit Gunsenheimer, Veronika Opletalová: Exercise book on the German scientific language . Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc 2011, ISBN 978-80-244-2560-3 .
  • Harald Weinrich: Language and Science. In: Merkur 39, 496-506, 1985.

Web links

Wiktionary: Scientific language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Eduard Beneš: The formal structure of scientific technical jargon in syntactic terms. In: Theo Bungarten (Ed.): Science language. Contributions to methodology, theoretical foundation and description. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 1981. pp. 185-212.
  2. Harald Weinrich: Forms of scientific language. In: 1988 yearbook of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. (1989) pp. 119-158
  3. Cf. Karl-Otto Edel: The power of language in science. ( Memento of the original from May 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 718 kB) on: , March 9, 2008. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ↑ The scientific language German is dying. ( Memento of the original from February 1, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Press release of the German Cultural Council of January 27, 2009 (accessed January 28, 2009).  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ German as a scientific language - Dossier. on: