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Author Topic: Do you italicize foreign words?  (Read 848 times)  

Online TromboneAl

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2017, 09:14:00 AM »
Yes. I do it like this:



or (spoken by character with poor English skills):

« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 03:42:06 PM by TromboneAl »

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Online Jena H

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2017, 03:32:43 PM »
This is a personal preference though. I don't think it's fair to say "amateur" or "unprofessional" when there are professional trad-pub authors who don't italicize. It's a valid stylistic choice. Just because it's not everyone's cup of tea doesn't make it wrong. I seriously doubt that "millions" of readers would put a book down or swear off the author for un-italicized foreign words if they were otherwise engaged in the story. Someone who discards a book over petty things like that probably wasn't that into it in the first place.

I read a lot of trad-pubbed books.  I have NEVER seen a foreign phrase not italicized.  And as has been mentioned, Chicago Manual of Style says to italicize.  It's not personal preference, it's what's been taught.

Again, self-published writers are free to do whatever they want--you can call that 'personal preference.'  But when told that X is the convention, or what is recommended by leaders in the field, or has been done for the last century, don't call it personal preference.
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Offline eroticatorium

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2017, 03:44:29 PM »
Yes, italicizing is better IMHO. If it's not italicized, I'll wonder if it's an English word I don't know. But yeah, you're free to plaintext if you're so inclined. Personally I'd find it distracting.
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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2017, 06:28:36 PM »
I'm surprised no one has brought up the weirdness in the OP's post. If the characters are supposed to be speaking Spanish, why would you put some words actually in Spanish? That is confusing and strikes me as weird. Italicizing them makes is weirder. No, do not mix languages unless you are actually mixing languages. It's pretentious and silly.
 

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Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2017, 06:38:42 PM »
I've done it both ways (not in the same novel, I hasten to say). I tend to somewhat heavy compared to a lot of authors on sprinkling in foreign words whether it is a battle shout in Gaelic or a prayer in Latin. I really hate blocks of italics which is just ugly and unpleasant to read in my opinion. On the other hand, the italics kind of let the reader know that is a word that they might not be acquainted with and my proofreader hasn't missed some gibberish. I think the italics probably work better even though I don't like using it.

I'm surprised no one has brought up the weirdness in the OP's post. If the characters are supposed to be speaking Spanish, why would you put some words actually in Spanish? That is confusing and strikes me as weird. Italicizing them makes is weirder. No, do not mix languages unless you are actually mixing languages. It's pretentious and silly.
 
I'll continue being pretentious then and my readers seem to enjoy it.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 06:40:58 PM by JRTomlin »

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2017, 06:50:30 PM »
I read a lot of trad-pubbed books.  I have NEVER seen a foreign phrase not italicized.  And as has been mentioned, Chicago Manual of Style says to italicize.  It's not personal preference, it's what's been taught.

Again, self-published writers are free to do whatever they want--you can call that 'personal preference.'  But when told that X is the convention, or what is recommended by leaders in the field, or has been done for the last century, don't call it personal preference.

Just because you haven't read them doesn't mean they don't exist. I gave you an example. Junot Diaz is another. We don't always have to follow the "leaders" in the field (although I'd say Diaz is definitely a leader), not even in trad-pub as I've showed you. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it...that's your personal preference. I haven't seen any reviews on any books that didn't italicize complaining about the lack of italics. At least two authors posted in this forum to say they don't italicize and haven't had any negative comments about it. Older actually got props from Kirkus for not italicizing. The times...they change. Sometimes things that made sense 100 years ago don't make so much sense anymore.

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2017, 07:30:16 PM »
I read a lot of trad-pubbed books.  I have NEVER seen a foreign phrase not italicized.  And as has been mentioned, Chicago Manual of Style says to italicize.  It's not personal preference, it's what's been taught.

But... you know that the CMoS isn't the only traditional book publishing style guide used in the world, right? The point was, different publishers have their own style guides, and vary on this point.

Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2017, 08:04:57 PM »
But... you know that the CMoS isn't the only traditional book publishing style guide used in the world, right? The point was, different publishers have their own style guides, and vary on this point.
True but most in the USA are based on CMoS with a few in-house variations. The safest practice (one I don't always follow ;) ) is to follow CMoS.

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Online Jena H

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2017, 08:45:33 PM »
But... you know that the CMoS isn't the only traditional book publishing style guide used in the world, right? The point was, different publishers have their own style guides, and vary on this point.

Yes, I'm aware of the argument.  But... you know that in every post I've stressed that every author is free to do what he/she pleases, right?  That's how it is with indie authors.  Do whatever you wish.
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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2017, 11:53:40 PM »
Yes, I'm aware of the argument.  But... you know that in every post I've stressed that every author is free to do what he/she pleases, right?  That's how it is with indie authors.  Do whatever you wish.

Sure, but you've also made a fairly big point of it being 'standard' for traditional publishers. Case in point:

It's not personal preference, it's what's been taught.

But when told that X is the convention, or what is recommended by leaders in the field, or has been done for the last century, don't call it personal preference.

Look, I often follow the CMoS when in doubt, too. But please don't forget that it's not the only authority, that it's not the only way things have been done in the last century, and it's not the only manual of style used or recommended by leaders in the field (by which I assume you mean 'fiction'). And please don't forget that the USA - wonderful though you folk are - is not actually the centre nor the acknowledged leader of the literary world. I know I might seem overly fussy to you, but it's quite galling to see you airily dismissing disagreements as, essentially, misinformed and stubborn.

(I'll admit to the stubborn)

Online Jena H

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #35 on: December 08, 2017, 05:18:15 AM »
... don't forget that it's not the only authority, that it's not the only way things have been done in the last century, ....

I do not forget that the standard CMoS guideline is not "the only way things have been done."  e.e. cummings and Cormac McCarthy (among others) flouted many conventional rules of the mechanics of writing.  More power to 'em.  I've simply pointed out what has been taught/advised as accepted over the past decades--and followed by a majority of writers.  I'm not saying people have to adhere to it, but it is a fact that italicizing in this situation has been taught to be the standard method... as many here, besides myself, have noted.

I'll repeat:  I'm not saying people have to adhere to it.
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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #36 on: December 08, 2017, 07:12:39 AM »
I don't. I never understood why so many authors do; a non-speaker doesn't know the word whether it's italicized or not. Personally I feel that italicizing Spanish and other non-English words draws negative attention to them. Words are words, and I want to normalize the beauty of all languages. English is not the language.

I see what you did there.

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Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« Reply #37 on: December 08, 2017, 08:01:25 AM »
I'm surprised no one has brought up the weirdness in the OP's post. If the characters are supposed to be speaking Spanish, why would you put some words actually in Spanish? That is confusing and strikes me as weird. Italicizing them makes is weirder. No, do not mix languages unless you are actually mixing languages. It's pretentious and silly.

It's not pretentious. Some words in some languages simply don't have an English counterpart, but they help create an authenticity for the culture I'm writing about. The word concha is a specific pastry that's very common in Mexican bakeries that doesn't have an English word. When my character is eating one I don't want to simply say "pastry", it's dull when the word concha specifies exactly what he's eating because not all sweet bread is the same. Same when my characters father calls him mijo. It can translate roughly to "son" in English, but the Mexican version holds more weight to it than that, as it's more of a slang term than anything, it's used mostly as a term of endearment and can even be used among husbands and wives. Going with something like "sweetie" or whatever doesn't hold the same meaning.

I'm going to be swayed by the majority and italicize these words, even if it bothers me personally. But I'm not going to take them out because some readers might think foreign words are "pretentious".
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 08:06:01 AM by RRodriguez »
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