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Even though most of my papers are in German, not in English, there is always quite a lot of material and references in English, too. (My target audience is expected to speak it somewhat fluently, too.)

As somebody not writing in English, do you quote verbatim from other languages, too? Or do you always translate? Consider the following sentence:

… muss man Yergeau [2017] erwähnen, die Autismus „a disorder whose symptomatological features arise from myriad causes“ nennt. (= … we have to mention Yergeau [2017], wo calls autism … )

I would always translate, say, German into English, but not necessarily the other way round. Awaiting the final word from my advisor, what’s your take on the matter?

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  • 1
    Why would you want to do this, other than saving the time it would take to translate something? Jul 29 at 15:31
  • 1
    Because I for one usually prefer the original wording. And if somebody looks up the citation, they’re probably better served with the original, too, rather than a translation that’s bound to be more or less clumsy.
    – Ingmar
    Jul 29 at 15:33
  • Also, some terms have no fixed translation anyway. To give an example, Baron-Cohen has coined the term “extreme male brain” theory of autism – I wouldn’t even know how to begin translating that without sounding ridiculous.
    – Ingmar
    Jul 29 at 15:38
  • To me (native German), that language mixture is much hard to read than plain German or plain English. I'd translate to German, and add the original wordingas a footnote. Jul 29 at 15:38
  • If the original and the translation are important to the meaning of the paper (and your audience understanding it), then include both - quote the original and state your translation of it.
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 29 at 15:39
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Generally there is no need to quote this sort of thing, you can write in your own words anyways, so no, I would not mix and match.

The exception I can think of is when you are writing about a text. Say you were writing about a work by Immanuel Kant and discussing the meaning of some particular phrasing in the original German, it would be fine to include those verbatim original quotes in the original language, preferably alongside a translation. It's very rare that anything in STEM would encounter this, only in the social sciences and humanities.

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  • "It's very rare that anything in STEM would encounter this, only in the social sciences and humanities." In the computer science space, you might encounter it in natural language processing of some sort when you're analyzing a multilingual corpus.
    – nick012000
    Jul 29 at 17:27
  • @nick012000 That would be one of those very rare cases :) NLP is already a quite specific area, and then narrow it further to multilingual cases...
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 29 at 17:28

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