Translating a bibliography - Leave the titles in original language
Thread poster: Marco V

Marco V
Local time: 03:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Feb 4, 2008

I'm translating some book covers from Italian to English.
This particular author has written books both in Italian and Spanish, so there a few languages involved.
Some of the books have not been translated or I simply cannot find them anywhere. Should I leave the titles in their original language, or should I translate them?

Example of what I did:

Consuelo Varela (Granada, 1945). Researcher at the “Escuela de Estudios Hispano Americanos” in Seville. Her works focus on researching the early years of the Conquest, with particular attention to Columbus and Vespucci. Colombo e i Fiorentini, Vallecchi, Firenze, 1991; with G. Airaldi, Isabella di Castiglia. Una ferre vocazione al potere, Genova, 1992; with P.E. Taviani and J. Gil, Il giornale de a bordo di Cristoforo Colombo, "Nuova Raccolta Colombiana", Roma, 1988; Cristoforo Colombo. Relazioni, Lettere sul secondo, terzo e quarto viaggio, Roma, 1992; with I. Aguirre, La caida de Cristóbal Colón. La pesquisa de Bobadilla, Madrid, 2006.

Does that look right?



Janet Ross Snyder  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:03
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Leave the titles in their original languages Feb 5, 2008

I recently came upon a similar situation. I checked the bibliographies of some textbooks I found in my library, and all the book titles or article titles were listed there in their original languages.
I think it makes sense because if a reader wanted to go back to the source to see the quotation in its original context, he would need to know the original title.


patyjs  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Absolutely, Feb 5, 2008

I've been in this situation, too, recently and all the information I found agreed that titles should be left in the original language UNLESS a version in your target language has been published. If you cannot find a target language version easily leave it in the original. Never translate the title yourself.

It was also suggested that the job of finding target language versions is really the job of an editor and does not come under what is expected of a translator, although I'm not sure what the consensus is. Personally, I would try to find target language versions (without knocking myself out) which shouldn't be too difficult if it's only one author.

HTH icon_biggrin.gif



Marco V
Local time: 03:03
Italian to English
+ ...
thanks Feb 5, 2008

thanks for your advice.
Yes, I left the titles in their original language, as there were no known translated publications. However, I left a note with the document "suggesting" the translation of the titles. I know it serves no real purpose, but it could come in handy when they do decide to translate them into english!


tonymacg  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:03
Member (2006)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Character-based languages Feb 7, 2008

I don't have any argument with leaving titles in the original for the alphabetic languages, which will display properly for the user.

But what about Japanese titles, for instance? Unless the user has Japanese enabled on their system, the titles will display as gibberish. I usually provide the original title in Japanese, and either a Romanization or translation, as seems most suited to the needs of the user.

And of course, the same will apply to Chinese and Korean and so on.


Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:03
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
unless told otherwise Feb 7, 2008

Unless you have explicit instructions to the contrary, I would never recommend translating book titles in a bibliography--EVEN IF there is a published version in English. The rest of the book may contain specific references to the edition cited (which is why the title is included in the bibliography in the first place)--at the very least the page numbers will be different, and sometimes there are more substantive differences between two editions in different languages that on the surface appear to be the same title.

For nonwestern languages and more obscure western languages where you think the meaning of the title may escape most readers, it's ok to include a translation in brackets after the original (which I would provide transliterated into Latin characters for languages that use non-Latin writing systems).


dcanossa  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would translate it between brackets next to the original title Feb 8, 2008

I agree the title should be kept in its original language but wouldn't it be useful for the reader to know what that title means? That is why books have titles, to very briefly say what the book is about. If the reader wants to go on a further research and read some of the books listed in the bibliography, knowing what the books are about would help them decide which one could be useful for their further references.

I have not come up with this situation yet, but I think I would probably give my own translation between brackets. After all, if someone ever translates that book into your specific target language and gives it a different title, your translation's readers will still have the option of looking up that book under the original name and author.

Also, I have seen books (and music albums) with more than one title anyway.

Good luck!


Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:03
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
What do you do when book titles are used as chapter headings? Feb 15, 2008

Am faced with this very question: the author has used the book title as part of a chapter heading and I don't know whether to put the book title or the translation between brackets.
I have not been asked to translate the book titles in the footnotes.


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Translating a bibliography - Leave the titles in original language

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