Using italics and quotes for foreign terms referred to as words
Thread poster: smink63

Japanese to English
Feb 28, 2015

When I'm using a foreign word within my English translation (I translate from Japanese), I usually just put the word in italics. No problem there. However, what if that word is being referred to as a word within the original? (I'm translating a passage that's about the etymology of a word.) Now I'm confused. Should I use both italics and quotation marks? Or drop the italics when I switch to using quotes? Or not use italics at all? I've searched and searched on line for an answer this--without success--so I hope some fellow translator out there has the answer. If there is one. I imagine this comes up in other languages, too, so I'm posting here.

[Edited at 2015-02-28 14:13 GMT]


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:54
Chinese to English
When in Etymologia, do as Etymologians do? Feb 28, 2015

As I recall, it's generally italics only.

This site: uses italics for the foreign or ancient words, with definitions in quotes following. Seems like a decent system to me.


United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
What's the actual sentence? Feb 28, 2015

I'm finding it hard to visualise, though my first inclination is to agree with Phil. You shouldn't normally need italics and quote marks.


Local time: 23:54
Italian to English
Chicago says... Feb 28, 2015

The Chicago Manual of Style (section 7.58) indicates that usually italics are used for a word used as a word. That doesn't quite answer your question but it goes on to give an example that includes quotation marks for certain contexts including foreign terms:
The Spanish verbs ser and estar are both rendered by "to be."

I think your instinct that both italics and quotes on the same word would seem strange is right.


Japanese to English
Thanks Mar 1, 2015

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'll just stick with the italics. These self-reflective passages get me confused, but the feedback was helpful.


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Using italics and quotes for foreign terms referred to as words

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