One topic, two articles

Comparing a German and an English Wikipedia article – Psycholinguistics versus Psycholinguistik

To find out about the differences of German and English articles in general, I picked one topic, which exists in both languages, and compared those two. In some cases, the articles of the English Wikipedia are translated into other languages because the English Wikipedia is the original and the most used Wikipedia in the world. But sometimes there are different articles about the same theme in two different languages. I have therefore chosen the subject of psycholinguistics for my studies.

The edit history, a part of the page information, of the English article shows that, also in this case, the English article existed before the German one was written. The English article is about six months older than the German one. What becomes obvious very fast, is the different structure of the two articles. The English article is longer, which could be caused by the earlier starting point, whereas the German one includes a picture. The German article is a running text. In contrast, the English one is more detailed, there are more subtitles and the table of contents is more complex. Another point that shows the independence of the German article, is the German one being mainly based on German literature. There is only one exception of one author (Aitchison) being mentioned in both articles.

What pops up when opening the English article, is the information of the article not being verified and the request for further improvement. Citations to reliable sources should be added. That leads to one of the core principles of Wikipedia, the verifiability. There is a contradiction of the English article being not verified since 2008 and both articles having their latest edit in 2014, which shows that they are kept up to date, also concerning the latest research literature from 2013. This random sample incites to prejudices like the Germans being very accurate in terms of evidence. One must be very careful in connecting the style of writing such an article to the mentality of a culture, keeping in mind the English language being spread all over the world.

Let’s have a look at another basic principle of Wikipedia, the free content anyone can edit. The number of edits and the number of authors differs a lot. The English article, as already said the most widespread one, has got twice as many distinct authors and edits as the German one. Speaking of numbers, one can add that the number of redirects to this page differs as well. The higher number of redirects to the English page helps the page to be more considered.

I also compared the two articles in more detail with regard to their first paragraphs, where the most important information and links should occur. In this case, terms like second language acquisition or neurolinguistics are indispensable. As a highlight, the English article includes information boxes; One at the top right side of the page and the other one at the very end of the article. Both are containing important key words from the fields of linguistics and psychology, which are the two components of the word psycholinguistics.

As a result, as expected in advance, the English article is accessed more frequently, which becomes obvious through many aspects and numbers mentioned above. But at the same time, the English article infringes one of the chief principles of Wikipedia. This fact shows that the English Wikipedia is not automatically better than smaller Wikipedias of other languages, in this case the German one. For a broad overview it is therefore helpful to read articles of different languages, complementing one another.


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