Writing Essays In German

Writing Essays In German-22
Abstract This article provides a critical overview of recent research on cross-cultural divergences between English, French and German academic writing, demonstrating its relevance to translation.The author starts by discussing Galtung’s notion of culture-specific intellectual styles.

It will come as no surprise, then, that Widdowson’s thesis has been challenged and, at least to some extent, disproved by a number of later studies.

These show that classification by academic disciplines and text types yields a more subtly differentiated picture of cross-cultural difference.

Here is a thumb-nail sketch of the conclusions he draws for the languages engaging our attention: Informal support for Galtung’s observations, which were not entirely original at the time he made them, may be derived from the writings of novelists and journalists.

As for French intellectual style, compare the epigraph inscribed on the first page of this study, in which Thomas Mann, writing in the 1920s, reverently describes the ‘appreciation and awe’ with which language is treated in Southern European countries – hence the above-cited question ‘Peut-on dire cela en bon français?

First voiced explicitly by German philosopher Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt as far back as the early nineteenth century, it may be seen as a natural extrapolation of the view that, as the Count de Buffon had it, ‘le style est l’homme même’ (Dournon 1994: 394).

There is, accordingly, a long tradition of investigating lexico-syntactic difference between languages, a tradition which can be traced back to such 19Cross-cultural difference in thought and writing patterns, on the other hand, has become a serious field of enquiry only in the last twenty years or so.

Cette pluralité des pratiques d’écriture, conclut-on, doit être préservée comme une valeur en soi, et elle appelle une attention particulière de la part du traducteur.

Unter Südländern ist die Sprache ein Ingredienz der Lebensfreude, dem man weit lebhaftere gesellschaftliche Schätzung entgegenbringt, als der Norden sie kennt.

Es sind vorbildliche Ehren, in denen das nationale Bindemittel der Muttersprache bei diesen Völkern steht, und etwas heiter Vorbildliches hat die genußreiche Ehrfurcht, mit der man ihre Formen und Lautgesetze betreut.

Man spricht mit Vergnügen, man hört mit Vergnügen – und man hört mit Urteil […][1] For a long time the idea has been around that the ‘spirit’ of a language exerts a formative influence on its speakers and writers.


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