Scientific language English

Many students come to a point in the course of their university career, where they have to decide: Will I write the next work in English, or rather in German? Should I take the course, which is held in English, or is my language skills insufficient? It is important to keep in mind what the linguistic difference between English and German is at the scientific level. English as a science language is different than the English you have learned in school. Learn about these differences and learn how anyone can write a thesis in English.

Start writing in English

Even though it will be difficult for you in the beginning: Writing English will help you later. If you plan to do your PhD after completing your undergraduate and graduate degree course, it is a good idea to take every opportunity to write papers in English. Most doctoral theses are written in English, and you will probably also need to give lectures in English and clearly present your topic at conferences. If you have written a scholarly thesis in English over and over again, language will not be a major obstacle during the PhD.

How is English as a scientific language?

English differs from scientific English in some points. Although you should put aside what you learned about the English language at school, English as a language of science is of course not a completely different and new language.

Scientific English uses virtually no personal pronouns. So you write in English rather “one” instead of “I” or “we”.

In addition, no double negation is used in scientific English. While in spoken and unscientific English it is perfectly acceptable to say “the cause is not uncommon”, this form will not be found in scholarly works. In contrast, “The cause is quite common” will be found more often.

Avoid shortening the words when writing in English. In normal written language, it is accepted to write “do not” or “does not”. For scientific writing, use the long forms “do not” and “does not”. This testifies to a secure writing style.

In scientific language, it is particularly important in English not to make empty statements or fill the pages with the unimportant. English works are often shorter than Germans. This is the information that is conveyed, but all useful and interesting. Avoid phrases like “as already stated”. People who read your work will also notice that on their own. These statements are unnecessary in English and are therefore omitted.

There are helpful reference works to help you work in English. For example, Langenscheidt has a dictionary for “Scientific English” in which you can look up terms and help you write your work in good scientific English.

English vs. German as a scientific language

The languages ​​English and German differ in many ways. In science, the style and expression of the two languages ​​is also completely different.

How difficult is scientific writing in English?

Although English as a language of science is distinctly different from the English you learned at school, you often only have to keep a few rules in mind while writing a thesis in English. Forget what you have learned to write scientific papers in German. As mentioned above, scientific English uses significantly different rules than German.

Often it is almost easier to write scientific papers in English. Depending on the area of ​​expertise, much of the literature is in English, making it easier to write your own work in the same language. You do not have to rethink and switch between languages ​​if you read the sources for your work in English and then write the work in the same language. For many this is a decisive advantage.

Since scientific papers in English are often shorter and more succinct, many students find it easier to understand and process the topics covered. So it will go to you when writing an English work. As you will see, if it is accepted to use a simpler language, the thoughts in your head will also organize faster and it will be easier for you to put these thoughts on paper.

English for your future

If you are looking for a career at the university, or want to work in an international company, it is worth venturing to jump into the cold water as early as possible. Many of your future colleagues will have to laboriously study scientific English courses while you are working, and you will have a lot of experience in the field and you will not need such courses. Therefore, do not think too hard during your studies when deciding whether you want to take the next course in English and write a scientific paper in the language: it will only help you in the foreseeable future if you get there early enough start.

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