I am currently writing my mathematics master's thesis (in topology) in my native language, German. Most of the literature is in English and some of the words are hard to translate. Is it ok to mix both languages?

For example, the German term for "adjunction space" would be Verklebungsraum, but no German mathematicians use that either.

  • 10
    What is acceptable in a thesis is up to your university and your thesis advisor. Ask there.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 12:18
  • 3
    Indeed, only your advisor can answer. There are a few notable examples of the opposite happening: mathoverflow.net/questions/62218/…. I am frequently facing the need to jankily translate to the native language because of editorial decisions while no local practitioner actually uses those in speech.
    – Lodinn
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 13:12
  • 4
    Are there no German-language topology journals / book at all? What about former students? I can't believe you're the first person to ever face this problem....
    – cag51
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:22
  • Where did you get the word "Verklebungsraum" even from?
    – user151413
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 16:08
  • 1
    @AzorAhai Google reports 9 hits for "Verklebungsraum". 3 out of those use this for a room in which you glue something (which the word literally means), and one is this post. Leaves 5 hits for the word which look like maths (which upon closer inspection all turn out to be only 3 different sources, one book and two lecture notes) - so it does not seem to be used much.
    – user151413
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


In the end, it's a matter your thesis style guidelines or your advisor should know.

That being said, in my (German-language) Diplom and PhD theses, I did use English technical terms, sometimes in addition to the German translation. I was told to mark foreign language terms in italics.


Follow these points:

  1. Ask your adviser
  2. Check if there any University guidelines
  3. Check previous (German) theses in your field from the same university
  4. Check standard textbooks in your field written in German

(no one here will be able to answer your question)

  • +1, though I might have ordered these differently (i.e., #3 first and probably #1 last).
    – cag51
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 0:48

As a question of style, it is not fine to mix two languages. If you introduce a technical term, you are more than encouraged to put the English term in parenthesis, maybe with a quote:

Potenzreihen (Power Series [Cauchy87]) have the form ...

There is still Mathematics published in German, though less and less because authors actually want to be read, and there are still textbooks in German, which you can consult for the German expression for a mathematical concept. If you cannot find one, you get to translate yourself, trying to be as literal as possible. So adjunction space would become Adjunktionsraum, if (contrafactually) there would not be a German expression for it.

Ultimately of course, it is the guidelines of your university and / or of your advisor(s) that matter.

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