Denkstil und Sprache/n in den Wissenschaften. Mit Beispielen aus der Medizin
Published inZeitschrift für angewandte Linguistik
© Walter de Gruyter. This is an electronic final draft version of an article published originally in Zeitschrift für angewandte Linguistik by Walter de Gruyter.
Scientific research is often understood as an activity or process simultaneously focused on seeking and explaining universal laws of nature. This is especially true in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These universal laws of nature are widely understood as independent from human beings and individual languages. Because of this, the use of English as a lingua franca is often assumed as beneficial for the internationalisation and globalisation of academic life. The use of different languages is more widely accepted in social sciences, humanities and arts because their interest does not focus on universal laws of nature but on societal phenomena. In these disciplines, also the paradigmatic variety is broader, and the “laws of nature” approach accepted in the STEM fields is disputed. However, also in social sciences, humanities and arts there is a growing pressure to publish in the current lingua franca, English, as international publishing is the most rewarded of all scholarly activities, in terms of international reputation, funding and academic position. One argument that supports the overarching trend of English usage is that any concepts not translatable into a “terminologically highly developed language”, such as English, are not “clear”. The aim of this paper is to challenge this assertion, by elaborating the relationship between the research process and language(s). To do this, I will firstly introduce Fleck’s concepts of Denkstil (thought style) and Denkkollektiv (thought collective), and argue, together with Fleck and others, that any cognitive activity is socio-cultural in nature. Next, I will illustrate this connection of Denkstil and language usage in medical scientific writing, utilising textlinguistic studies. Finally, I will discuss the connection between Denkstil and choice of language, or more precisely, the lack of choice in academic life. This lack of choice will be critically scrutinised in terms of the way in which academic life is increasingly commercialised. ...