Big Brother (Nineteen Eighty-Four) / Großer Bruder – comparison of the German and the English Wikipedia article


This work analyzes the differences of German and English Wikipedia articles of the same theme.

In concrete terms this paper deals with the comparison of the German Wikipedia article Großer Bruder and the English Article Big Brother (Nineteen Eighty-Four).

Both articles are based on the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell. In this novel the Big Brother is a fictional character in the role of the enigmatic dictator of the surveillance state created in the story.

Publication and licence

The English version was published on October, 9th 2001 whereas the German version was published about one and a half year later on Mai, 26th, 2003.

Both versions are available on the „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ license.


First of all what is apparent, is that the articles differ in their extent and length, which basically means that the English article consists of 1.308 words, whereas the German one only consists of 234 words. Moreover the English version includes a picture while the German one does not. The picture shows the `Big Brothers´ face in a sequence of a film adaptation of 1984 and is entitled  “Big Brother’s face looms from giant telescreens in Victory Square in Michael Radford‘s 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four.”


The content of the German article is written in a single sentence definition of `BB´ and a body paragraph entitled `Inhalt´ that is quite like the introduction of the English WP article and mainly sums up the core theme of the novel with focus on the character Big Brother, regarding to role, sense and relevance in the story. Finally it names the `The Big Brother Awards´ and the `Big Brother´ TV show in each one sentence, which both refer to the deeper meaning of the term `Big Brother´. Further the Article contains the sources in form of `Weblinks´ (with reference to one single web page) and `Einzelnachweise´ which are references to two further readings of `Die Welt´ articles.

The English WP article is divided up into five paragraphs, the sources and an additional table that provides links to characters, places, groups, concepts, adaptations and influence of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four  itself. The article starts with a short definition of `BB´ and its role in the story plot quite like in the German version. Then the first named paragraph `Purported origins´ begins, in which possible origins and causes of which Orwell wrote the novel are shown.  `Appearance in the novel´, the next point, is subdivided in `Existence´ and `Cult of personality´ and deals explicitly with the `BB´ character itself and his role in the plot. The last content paragraph `Legacy´ provides various information of the background of the novel and how the novel further was referred to in culture, society and politics. Finally the article provides the `See also´ category which gives links to eleven more Wiki articles that are somehow connected to the `BB´ Theme and then the `References´, which provide several print and internet sources and hence basically quite some more than the German one.


In terms of content the English WP article encloses more, broader and deeper information than the German WP article. Mainly about the role of `BB´ in and beyond the novel and therefore how the topic spread into other fields than literature.

A reason for the English article being more extensive in terms of form and content could be the fact that the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was originally published in English and it´s writer George Orwell is of British origin. Therefore the novel and the theme of the Big Brother is basically more established in the English speaking world, especially in Great Britain. So supposedly there are more English speaking people concerned with and interested in this theme and write about it than German speaking people. Hence the novel is more frequently read in English language by people of all kinds of native languages. So the English article (viewed 20453 times in the last 30 days) is more frequently visited than the german one (viewed 1101 times in the last 30 days). There are basically more people interested in advancing and involved in editing and refining the article. Also the English WP article draws back to a lot more sources which basically provide more information and more substance.

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