Suppose I want to use words like idli, dosa, dal, sambhar...which are generic dishes- like one would say pancakes in English, should it be in italics?

What about names of special ingredients?

Thanks in advance.

  • 4
    If you're writing a recipe, I don't think the italics are necessary. The reader should be aware that the dishes are of Indian origin. On the other hand, if you're only mentioning an "esoteric" dish/ingredient within an article or story unrelated to cooking, I might advise the author to use italics, as a form of courtesy to the reader. It's only my opinion though.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 10, 2015 at 15:37
  • 1
    I think this would just follow general rules for italics; unfamiliar foreign terms may be italicized, and scientific names are obligatorily italicized according to most style guides.
    – herisson
    Oct 10, 2015 at 15:52
  • 1
    I agree with @Mari-Lou regarding the use in a recipe: don't italicise. With respect to use in articles: some non-English words (such as food words) have 'crossed-over' into English and as such really don't need to be italicised as they are now regarded as English words. Words like taco. As Mari-Lou said, best keep italics for "esoteric" non-English words that your reader may be unfamiliar with. Oct 10, 2015 at 15:54
  • 1
    I do not think de facto applies here. The question is specific to using the Indian names of the likes of pancakes or muffins in an article. These are proper nouns. Oct 10, 2015 at 17:59
  • 1
    Italics for foreign words seem to be used more sparingly than in the past. It does heavily depend on the type of writing: in some cases it may make sense to emphasise and define the term at the first use. In others it might interrupt the flow to do anything other than act as if the reader understood the words -- even if a significant proportion of readers would have only a dim understanding from context.
    – Chris H
    Oct 10, 2015 at 19:42


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