Would you use English or Chinese fonts for parentheses in Chinese text with English text?
Thread poster: Lau Wei Tsinn

Lau Wei Tsinn  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 23:01
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Mar 13

Hi there,

I am referring to predominantly Chinese text that contains some terms in English. Please refer to the simple example below:

说明 (Instructions)
说明(Instructions)

As one can see, the English term is enclosed in parentheses behind the Chinese text. My question is, which of the above use of parentheses is correct? The parentheses in the first version are in an English font whereas the second version comes in a Chinese font.

I would like to know if there is any standard industry convention for this. Would appreciate hearing from both colleagues and people in the publishing industry.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Wei


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Paul Denlinger  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2012)
Chinese to English
Chinese or English parentheses with English/Chinese bilingual text? Mar 13

I have never heard anyone bring up this issue; I suspect this is because this a styling and formatting issue, not a semantics issue. This is because in both English and Chinese issue, parentheses mean the same thing.

From a styling/formatting point of view, I believe that English wording inside the parentheses should have English parentheses, while Chinese content should have Chinese parentheses.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
In agreement with Paul Mar 13

Yes, parentheses are punctuation, along with colon, semicolon, comma, etc. They have a semiotic, not semantic, function, however.

I vote for the writing/typeface convention style that is native to the target language. If correct Chinese (simplified) usage calls for parentheses, then I would use the ones found in a Chinese font.

However, the English word in parentheses is a clarification.

In other languages, English punctuation and English typeface treatments like bold and italics, do not apply. Take Burmese, for example.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:01
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think you'd better move this topic to the Chinese forum Mar 13

Just ask how those translating into Chinese would deal with it. In my opinion, as long as you use one of them consistently, either one will be OK. I don't think there is any industry convention about it.

[Edited at 2017-03-14 09:42 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 17:01
Russian to English
+ ...
English parentheses Mar 13

The general rule for formatting of punctuation is to retain formatting from the directly adjoining word (that is, the word not separated from that punctuation mark by a space). For example, if a comma follows a boldfaced or italicised word, which is then (after a space) followed by regular text, the comma itself should also be formatted bold or italic, respectively. Font is a part of formatting, and parentheses directly adjoin the text. Accordingly, parentheses shall retain the font of the enclosed word.

On a related note, Latin lettering in Chinese fonts is awful. Use native Western fonts instead.


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Frank Zou  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 23:01
Member (2016)
Chinese to English
+ ...
It is just a matter of "stylistic rules and layout" Mar 14

Lau Wei Tsinn wrote:

Hi there,

I am referring to predominantly Chinese text that contains some terms in English. Please refer to the simple example below:

说明 (Instructions)
说明(Instructions)

As one can see, the English term is enclosed in parentheses behind the Chinese text. My question is, which of the above use of parentheses is correct? The parentheses in the first version are in an English font whereas the second version comes in a Chinese font.

I would like to know if there is any standard industry convention for this. Would appreciate hearing from both colleagues and people in the publishing industry.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Wei


Actually, if we are talking about publishing an article, different journals have their own rules regarding the layout. So, for a translator, it is not wrong to put it either way. You are trying to do an editor's job.


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