When translating research papers from Arabic to English, should I translate the Arabic sources (book titles, etc.) to English, or should I leave them in Arabic?

1 Answer 1


I will argue that, for maximum usefulness to your readers, you should do both. In other words, put both the original and the translation in the entry, e.g. either:

English citation (original: Arabic citation)


Arabic citation (translation: English citation)

I don't see either of these are being particularly dominant over the other. Both, however, allow one to both trace the original and know what it is without speaking Arabic.

Note that I would believe this answer should apply to any translation between languages. It is most critical, however, when the writing systems are incompatible, e.g., Arabic, Roman-character languages, South Asian languages, Chinese, etc.

  • 4
    Another practice that I have seen, when one has incompatible writing scripts, is to include not just a translation of the citation, but also a transliteration using a standard method. This can be helpful for individuals who cannot read the native script, especially when the cited items have no established translation. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 18:58
  • In contrast, when translating from English to another language, would English references be translated as well? The fact that English is the global language makes the translation seems unnecessary to me.
    – Ooker
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:33
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    @Ooker English may be widely spread, but it is by no means universal. I see no reason to be less helpful to an Arabic reader of a translation from English to Arabic than one would be to an English reader of a translation from Arabic to English.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 19:05
  • I agree that, but wouldn't it save a lot of time for the translator if they don't have to translate the reference? The readers who really need to check the references are required to know English anyway, and there is a widespread presumption that any researcher should barely know English. I'm trying to maximize the effort for both sides
    – Ooker
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 8:28

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