Subproject 1 “The Languages of Science”
“The Languages of Science”
A pilot study of research-oriented critical reflection upon multilingualism in the area of sustainability research
Reference dimension sustainability: critical reflection in science
Prof. Dr Jannis Androutsopoulos, Dr Margarita Giannoutsou und Dr Claudia T. Schmitt
- Which languages do the test persons use to interact with one another and write? To what extent do the scientific language preferences vary according to status group, discipline, and professional mobility?
- Does academic writing in different languages influence the development of scientific and academic terminologies and what roll do visual representations play in the context of multilingual science and scholarship?
- What positions do the test persons take in relation to leading assumptions in the public discourse on the languages of science in Germany?
The decision for one or several languages as instruments of scientific practice is shaped by factors relating to efficiency, academic discipline, and academic policy. The increasing trend towards English as the global language of science varies according to country and discipline (Gnutzmann 2008). The implications for equal opportunity—on the one hand, the disadvantages experienced by non-Anglophone researchers, on the other, the effects on the development of further languages of science—have been the object of intensive discussion over the past few years (Carli/Ammon 2008, Lillis/Curry 2010). Empirically based insights into the role of multilingualism in the practice of science, however, have been few and far between.
Project aim and method
The project investigates the conditions, strategies, and consequences of multilingual scientific practice. The project focuses on researchers’ perspectives on their language options, the status of the languages at their disposal, the possibilities for developing terminologies, and visualization as influenced by factors such as academic discipline, status group, and mobility.
- semi-structured, guided interviews conducted with around 20 test persons from the area of sustainability research at Universität Hamburg
- test persons selected according to the criteria of socialization, status group, international mobility, and academic discipline
- qualitative analysis based on interview analyses and socio-linguistic aspects
This project makes an empirically based contribution to scientists’ critical reflection on their own academic practice, thus encouraging the further development of self-critical science and scholarship in which it is possible to question habits of thought and action and develop alternatives. Project results are to contribute to the debate on languages of science in Germany.
Poster (PDF) "Language in Sciences"