I know certain foreign words are to be italicized, but in the case where two are used in the same sentence, should they still be italicized or wrapped in quotes?

Secondly, if a definition is included besides the foreign word--I would think to italicize it still--I find the comma separation between them odd. Wouldn't parentheses be the correct alternative in Sentence 1?

Snippets from source:

Sentence 1: "it involves both nritta, pure dance, and abhinaya, or expressional dance."
Alternative: "it involves both nritta (pure dance) and abhinaya (expressional dance)."

(There is inconsistency below with two words wrapped in quotes instead)
Sentence 2: “chouka,” a square-like stance, and “tribhangi,” a stance with a deflection of the..."
Alternative: chouka, a square-like stance, and tribhangi, a stance with a deflection of the..."

  • I became quite exhausted reading this question. Can you be more succinct, perhaps ? – Nigel J Mar 15 '18 at 13:24
  • @NigelJ, apologies for cramming as much as I could into the post. My intent was to make sure it's specific and not labelled as a duplicate. Better? – BeerBeard Mar 15 '18 at 13:35
  • I’d always italicize, and visually I like the paren style better than the comma style, but t creates the risk that generally speaking when you put something in parens you’re signaling “it’s ok to skip this” or “the sentence would carry the same fundamental information if this parenthetical was dropped”, which is particularly untrue for translations of foreign words. – Dan Bron Mar 15 '18 at 13:37
  • I often quote Greek in my writing. My own practice is to write the word in italics then add the meaning between commas logos ,word, and then again if quoting another one paralios, coast. – Nigel J Mar 15 '18 at 13:38
  • Very helpful, everyone! – BeerBeard Mar 15 '18 at 21:00

The Linguistics Society of America suggests an economical punctuation that is both uncluttered and intuitive:

Ger. Hund ‘dog’, Dogge ‘Great Dane’…

Italics for the non-English word, single quotes for the translation, and British rules for comma placement. If you don't want to go that far, you can use American comma rules:

Ger. Hund ‘dog,’ …

but frankly, this looks more cluttered than what the LSA suggests, the likely reason why a linguistics society in the US would ignore the typographical standard prevalent in that country and go for something more streamlined.

If your definition runs to more than a few words, then the best option is to use an appositive bracketed by commas:

Ger. Schadenfreude, the enjoyment evoked by the [deserved] misfortune of others, …

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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