When it comes to citing works in foreign languages, understanding the rules of capitalization is crucial for maintaining accuracy and consistency. Different languages have unique conventions that dictate which words should be capitalized in titles and subtitles. Here’s a breakdown of the rules for some major European languages:
In French, capitalization largely mirrors English conventions. However, there are notable exceptions. Capitalize the first word of a title or subtitle, along with any other words that would typically be capitalized in English, such as names and place names.
The subject pronoun “je” (equivalent to “I”) is not capitalized.
Days of the week and months are not capitalized.
Titles preceding personal names are not capitalized.
EXAMPLES IN FRENCH
La chambre claire: Note sur la photographie.
Du côté de chez Swann.
La guerre de Troie n’aura pas lieu.
German capitalization rules are distinct, emphasizing the capitalization of all nouns.
Capitalize All Nouns: This includes adjectives, pronouns, and other parts of speech when they function as nouns. The pronouns “Sie” and “Ihr” are also capitalized.
Capitalize First Word: Similar to French, capitalize the first word of a title or subtitle.
EXAMPLES IN GERMAN
Lethe: Kunst und Kritik des Vergessens.
Ein treuer Diener seines Herrn.
Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung.
Discern Stylistic Variations: Recognize subtle stylistic differences in capitalization across regions or periods within the same language. For instance, German capitalization can vary between standard Hochdeutsch and Swiss German dialects. Understanding these nuances ensures accurate MLA formatting and reflects a nuanced understanding of linguistic diversity.
Verify Capitalization in Original Sources: When citing works in foreign languages, always verify capitalization rules in the original source material. Authors may adhere to specific stylistic preferences or conventions that differ from general language rules. Directly referencing original texts ensures accuracy and maintains fidelity to the author’s intended formatting.
Adapt MLA Guidelines for Consistency: While MLA offers guidelines for English-language citations, adapt these principles to maintain consistency when citing foreign-language sources. For instance, ensure that the first word of titles and subtitles is capitalized, and follow language-specific rules for proper nouns and pronouns. Consistency in capitalization enhances readability and professionalism in your citations.
Italian capitalization rules closely mirror those of English, albeit with some noteworthy exceptions. Like in French and German, capitalize the first word of a title or subtitle, along with any other words that would typically be capitalized in English.
The subject pronoun “io” (equivalent to “I”) is not capitalized.
Days of the week, months, languages, and nationalities are not capitalized.
Titles preceding proper names are not capitalized.
EXAMPLES IN ITALIAN
L’arte tipografica in Urbino.
Bibliografia della critica pirandelliana.
Luigi Pulci e la Chimera: Studi sull’allegoria nel Morgante.
Latin capitalization rules closely resemble those of English, with a few notable exceptions. Capitalize only the first word of a title, along with any other words that would typically be capitalized in English, such as names.
Subject pronoun “ego” (equivalent to “I”) is not capitalized.
EXAMPLES IN LATIN
De rerum natura.
Understanding and applying these capitalization rules correctly is essential for accurately citing works in foreign languages. By adhering to these guidelines, students can ensure clarity and consistency in their academic and professional endeavors.
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