8 Work titles in text

8.8 Non-English work titles

For general guidance on works in languages other than English see Chapter 12. The rules governing the capitalization of titles in some languages, such as French, are complex, and in less formal contexts it is acceptable to treat foreign-language titles in the same way as English ones.

Take care to distinguish the title, date of publication, and author of the original from the title, date, and translator of an English version. Ideally the title of the translation should not be used as if it were the title of the original work, but this rule may be relaxed in some contexts.

English titles may be used for works performed in English translation. The common English titles of classical works may be used in place of the Greek or Latin originals, and common English or Latin titles may be used for ancient or medieval works originally written in Greek, Arabic, or Persian:

Virgil’s Eclogues
Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine
Aristotle’s De caelo et mundo

The title in the original language may be accompanied by an English translation, especially if its sense is not implied by the surrounding text. Place such translations in quotation marks within parentheses (square brackets are sometimes used), in roman type with an initial capital on the first word. The true titles of published translations are set in italics, like those of other publications.

Auraicept na n-éces (‘The primer of the poets’)
the lament ‘O, Ailein duinn shiùbhlainn leat’ (‘Oh, brown-haired Allan, I would go with you’)
a translation of Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique (as A Dictionary of Philosophy, 1824)

Except in specialist contexts the titles of works in non-Roman alphabets are not reproduced in their original characters but are transliterated according to standard systems (with minimal capitalization) or replaced by English translations. Words actually printed in transliteration in a title are rendered as printed, not brought into line with a more modern style of transliteration:

Ibn Sīnā’s Kitāb shifā’ al-nafs
Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard
his translation of the Bhagavadgita was published in London (as The Bhagvat-geeta) in 1785


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