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Wikipedia capitalizes the title of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot as En attendant Godot in its original French version, which is how the title of the play is originally typeset. However, according to MLA formatting (MLA Handbook, Eighth Ed.),

Whenever you use the title of a source in your writing, take the title from an authoritative location in the work, not, for example, from the cover or the top of a page. Copy the title without reproducing any unusual typography, such as special capitalization or lowercasing of all letters.

It then continues by describing which words to capitalize, concurrent with standard title case. I plan on capitalizing the title to be En Attendant Godot by the rules stated above, but I am wondering if there are any different rules for titles in languages other than English. For example, I know that Spanish titles often only capitalize the first word, but I don't know the MLA rules in Spanish, either.

Edit: I have found that the last few pages of the English version Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts gives the following:

WAITING FOR GODOT was first presented (as En Attendant Godot) at the Théâtre de Babylone, 38 Boulevard Raspail, Paris, France, during the season of 1952–3.

The only reason I still cannot fully justify that capitalizing or not capitalizing either is correct is because the play itself could have been capitalized differently than the book. I really have no idea.

  • Why are you using the French title? I think you are safe to use En Attendant Godot as you planned, at least for a citation for a paper or article written in English (not French). Avoid using the French title if doing so would seem merely pretentious, especially for such a well known and widely produced play. – Mark Hubbard Mar 5 '17 at 16:52
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    You should comply to the French orthographic rules, where there is no capitalization of words because they belong to a title. What gives "En attendant Godot" : "E" (En is at the beginning of the sentence), "G" (Godot is a proper noun), "a" (attendant is a normal verb, not beginning a sentence). – Graffito Mar 5 '17 at 18:38
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    Why are you asking this on English.SE? – Andrew Leach Mar 5 '17 at 22:32
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    The standard capitalization in French would be En attendant Godot. See Wikipedia. Isn't this what MLA wants you to use? It would seem so, but I don't know. Anything else would be non-standard in French, although Google shows you can find any of en attendant godot, En attendant Godot, En Attendant Godot, EN ATTANDANT GODOT on the cover of various editions of the play. – Peter Shor Jul 24 '18 at 19:08
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This web page says that for MLA, you should cite French titles using the French capitalization (of which there are two systems). In this case, both systems give the capitalization En attendant Godot.

This example from the MLA gives an Italian title for which only the first word is capitalized.

This blog entry details the two systems in more detail.

The easiest thing might be to stick with the capitalization used in French Wikipédia. It seems to be inconsistent between the two systems, but it may just be choosing the capitalization that the author originally used.

  • omg it's Peter Shor – Davis Rash Feb 28 at 22:08
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The MLA doesn't have rules on French capitalization.

Titles in an original language are kept as is.

Titles with a translation follow English rules. The main words of plays in English are capitalized, unlike French.

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • A Moon for the Misbegotten

for, can be considered a minor word: that gives us:

English: Waiting for Godot
French: En attendant Godot

In French, play titles are not capitalized as in English. But there's no point going into a whole thing about that. Here's the original play in French from the original publisher, LES ÉDITIONS DE MINUIT, in 1952, which is how it should be used in an English text. One doesn't translate that. But there are many translations of it, which follow English titling rules.

En attendant Godot

enter image description here

  • Capitalization on the covers of books can be quite unconventional (although in your example it's not) ... it's probably better to look inside, on the title page. – Peter Shor Mar 1 at 10:29
  • @PeterShor This book capitalizes it the way one finds it in written texts. – Lambie Mar 1 at 16:13

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