9 Quotations and direct speech
9.7 Non-English quotations
Quotations from languages other than English are commonly given in English translation, but they are sometimes reproduced in their original language, for example when their sense is thought to be evident, in specialist contexts where a knowledge of the language in question is assumed, or where a short quotation is better known in the original language than it is in English:
Après nous le déluge (‘After us the deluge’)
Arbeit macht frei (‘Work liberates’)
Quotations in other languages follow the same rules as those in English. The wording, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and layout of non-English quotations should be treated like those in English, and omissions, interpolations, and sources presented in the same way:
Tengo un sentimiento de gratitud con el Gobierno de [José María] Aznar por lo que hizo cuando caí preso. Pero, efectivamente, me parece que la nueva politica española ha sido más efectiva. La confrontación nunca en política resuelve nada. Creo que el cambio sí ha favorecido … que en Cuba hubiera más receptividad en las autoridades cubanas.
El País, 1 Dec. 2004, 33e
Le Monde reported that ‘Raúl Rivero a exprimé sa “gratitude éternelle” envers le gouvernement espagnol’.
In the second example the original wording, including the French rendering of a Spanish name, has been reproduced exactly, but French quotation marks and italicization of quotations (« gratitude éternelle ») have been adapted to British conventions.
Sometimes it seems desirable both to retain the original—perhaps because its exact sense or flavour cannot be captured by a translation— and to provide an English version for readers unfamiliar with the language in question. It is always worth asking in such cases whether the original is genuinely helpful to the reader. The English equivalent may take the form of an explanation or paraphrase, but if it too is presented as a direct quotation, whether loose or literal, it should be enclosed in quotation marks and will normally be placed within parentheses after the original. Alternatively the translation may be given first, followed by the original in quotation marks within parentheses. If sources of quotations are given in parentheses, a source may follow a translation within a single set of parentheses, separated from it by a comma, semicolon, or colon, according to house style:
The cyclist Jean Bégué was ‘de ces Jean qu’on n’ose pas appeler Jeannot’ (‘one of those men named John one dare not call Johnny’).
He poses the question ‘Wie ist das Verhältnis des Ausschnitts zur Gesamtheit?’ (‘What is the relationship of the sample to the whole group?’: Bulst, ‘Gegenstand und Methode’, 9).
Inter needed to develop ‘a winning attitude and an attractive style of play’ (‘un’identità vincente e un bel gioco’).
Where a displayed translation is followed by a displayed original—or vice versa—place the second of the two quotations in parentheses. Where the second of the two displayed quotations is the original, some authors prefer to have it set in italics. A displayed verse original may be followed either by a verse translation set in lines or by a displayed prose translation:
Omnibus impatiens et nimis elatus
(Ruddy in looks and white in his vesture,
Impatient with all and too proud in gesture) (Wright, i. 261)
Gochel gwnsel a gwensaeth
a gwin Sais, gwenwyn sy waeth
(Beware the counsel, fawning smile and wine of the Englishman—it is worse than poison)
In most contexts quotations from other languages should be given in translation unless there is a particular reason for retaining the original. On occasion it is helpful to include within a translation, in italics within parentheses, the untranslated form of problematic or specially significant words or phrases:
Isolated non-English words or phrases generally look best italicized rather than placed in quotation marks (
As early as 1979 the status of denominação de origem controlada was accorded to Bairrada
In this document he is styled magister scolarum
Montella was capocannoniere (top scorer), with eleven goals
In some works appropriate conventions will be needed for quotations transliterated from non-roman alphabets and for the rendering of German Fraktur type. The German Eszett (ß) can normally be regularized as double s (ss). For advice on transliteration see