Somebody wrote a text in Latin, let’s call her Alice and let’s call the text De Nihilo. This text was then translated into German by Bob. In my work, I translate Bob’s translation into English.

In the author–date system of the CMoS style, I have adopted this solution for referencing a translation of an already translated text:

My own translation of the following translation from Bob. (Bob 1987; translation in German of De Nihilo by Bob).¹

¹ “[Latin Text]” (Alice 47BC).

Is my solution the correct one?

  • Can you clarify, do you mean: translated from Latin to German by author X then translated from German to English by you; or, translated from Latin to German by author X and translated from Latin to German by you?
    – Deleuze
    Sep 29, 2016 at 11:58
  • The first option is the correct one: "My own translation from German to English by me" (authorX year; German text, which is a translation by authorX from a Latin of authorY). 1 [footnote] 1 "Latin text source" (AuthorY date).
    – kiphok
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:39
  • @kiphok: I edited your question according to my understanding to make the situation more clear and your example more readable. Please check whether everything is still according to your intentions and edit it if you have any corrections to make.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 29, 2016 at 18:41
  • Are you referencing these texts to support the ideas in your work, or are you doing comparative linguistics studies of different translations? I've got two answers in mind, and that depends.
    – svavil
    Sep 29, 2016 at 18:58
  • What you have proposed is the solution I have adopted with one difference: the first sentence must be within quotes. I am referencing a very important Latin source, which says that the two modes (authentic and plagal) are use in the same composition (they are not, as commonly and falsely thought, two difference scales or two differents tonalities, but two differents frames referering the the harmonic and arithmetic division of the octave).
    – kiphok
    Sep 30, 2016 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


STEM texts

In STEM texts, the main goal of providing the reference is to give attribution to ideas. Thus, the reference acknowledges that Alice wrote De Nihilo in 47 BC.

As Alice has pointed out long ago (Alice, 47 BC), nothingness does not exist.
Alice, De Nihilo, 47 BC, Rome, Manuscript Publishing.

The secondary goal is to point the reader to the available translation, in case he wants to verify the source himself. In your case, this is the German translation Bob made.

As Alice has pointed out long ago (Alice, 47 BC), nothingness does not exist.
Alice, De Nihilo, 47 BC, Rome, Manuscript Publishing = Alice, Über Nichts, 1987, München, Hanser.

No one cares if you made your own translation into English; readers value ideas first.

Language studies

In language studies, you are likely interested in how exactly the same idea was expressed, maybe to the point where you are pointing out differences between several translations. Alice and Bob deserve separate mentions now. If you have taken the effort to translate De Nihilo into English, this deserves to be published, say, in appendix A of your work.

Alice is genuinely worried by the nothingness conundrum (Alice, 47 BC), but Bob's German translation fails to convey this emotion (Alice, 1987). My English translation (appendix A) seems to resolve this problem.
Alice, De Nihilo, 47 BC, Rome, Manuscript Publishing.
Alice, Über Nichts, German translation by Bob, 1987, München, Hanser.

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