English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Inside a piece of text, I have a word in another language. I'd like to keep it that way, and add a translator's note with the translation to English. What is the common practice of doing that?

I'd prefer to do it inline. I'm thinking of something like this:

word (TN: translation of word)

But I haven't seen this notation used anywhere.

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

A Google Books search seems to confirm that the usual abbreviation for “translator's note” is indeed TN. The first time you use it, you may do so in full, so that the abbreviation is clear later.

In your particular context, however, it might simply be possible to state the translation inside the parentheses. Using the German Länder as an example, it might give:

Many Länder (“provinces”) have different regulations on the issue

which I think is quite clear. You may even omit the quotes, I think.

share|improve this answer

The word woord ("word") ...

The word Wort (German for "word") ...

The word mot (Eng. "word") ...

All three choices would be fine in most texts. It may depend on your audience how much explanation the translation requires, whether the language of origin should be mentioned, etc. If your audience is fairly educated, you might be better off without translations of common foreign words, as your readers will not doubt know mot and Wort and might feel patronised—though few would probably know Dutch woord, unless it is obvious from context.

share|improve this answer

I've seen many people mark a translator's note with "t/n" in almost all the comics I've read. You could try that.

share|improve this answer

I agree that using first time 'translator's note' in full will clear later its abbreviation as t/n.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.