I'm writing a cross-language thesis. In other words, my thesis is about a foreign culture.

Is it common to include foreign terms in the title of a thesis?

If yes, should I include the translation of the term (in parentheses, for example)?

  • 1
    A title with parenthetical explanations would feel very clunky, to me. (Admittedly, I'm not in a field where this sort of thing would crop up.) Jul 10, 2014 at 9:37
  • Could you please tell us what is your field? Jul 10, 2014 at 17:06
  • 1
    Theoretical computer science / mathematics, where you'd just use the English name for everything, if you were writing in English. You don't find mathematical constructs that have a name in one language but not in another so the issue you're facing doesn't come up. Jul 10, 2014 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


In anthropology, it's pretty common to use local terms in both the title and subtitle. Almost everyone romanizes the terms rather than using the native script. And they leave explanations and glosses to the body of the dissertation itself.

That being said, when it comes time to submit to a book publisher, they're more hesitant about local terms in titles. The issue is that they are legible only to people who already know the local language or culture, so you've automatically limited the appeal of your book. But there have been some notable exceptions:

Travesti : Sex, Gender, and Culture Among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes

Toms and Dees: Transgender Identity and Female Same-Sex Relationships in Thailand

The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story

In the examples above, the exceptions prove the rule by either being obvious to English speakers ("travesti" =? transvestite?), close to English ("Tom" is obvious, "Dee" adds an element of curiousity), or already a loan word in English ("anime").

  • In your first two examples, the subtitle is perfectly comprehensible standard English and largely explain the title anyway and I think that's what proves the rule. You don't need to notice that "travesti" looks like "transvestite" to understand the first title, for example. Jul 10, 2014 at 9:32
  • Should it be put formatted differently, in italics or between inverted commas, for example? Jul 10, 2014 at 9:53
  • People use both. Italics is confusing when the title of books are usually italicized, which means the foreign terms get un-italicized. Inverted commas and quote marks can get typographically ugly.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 24, 2014 at 20:49

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