For example, a scientific paper which is called 'On the Treatment of Concordant Uranium-Lead Ages', how would the German scientific community translate the title and specifically the 'on' preposition?

Would it be "Zur Behandlung konkordanter Uran-Blei-Alter" or "Auf die Behandlung von Concordant Uran-Blei Alter"? So basically is the common widely accepted translation for "on" in this context be "zu" or "auf"?

2 Answers 2


"Auf" does not fit. Traditionally, it's either "über" (+ Akk.) or "zu" (+ Dat.), e.g.,

  • Zur Theorie des Gesetzes der Energieverteilung im Normalspektrum.
  • Über das Gesetz der Energieverteilung im Normalspektrum.

There is also the longer phrase "Ein Beitrag zum/zur ...", corresponding to the English "A contribution on the ...".

On the other hand, in STEM fields, scientific articles are typically not published in German nowadays, and in those academic disciplines where articles are still published in German on a regular basis (e.g., law), this naming style seems to (have) become unpopular: Authors are more likely to write "Die Strafbarkeit von Cum/Ex-Geschäften" than "Zur Strafbarkeit von Cum/Ex-Geschäften".

  • Thanks, this is exactly what I needed. Apr 5, 2020 at 9:26

This short hand taken from booktitles, the conjunction what should be a preposition is kept in the title, while a verb that belonged with the preposition is omitted

Die Ludolfs

[schwadronieren] über die Gesetze des Nudelkochens

the öreposition in spe commanding the appropriate verb--I mean it uses über or zu pretty much invariably--implies it was always a preverb. Compare "Hermann, zu mir!"

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