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krashnburn
03-30-2012, 12:23 AM
I've read varying guides to the use of foreign words, so I'm looking for a little direction here.

In my novel, I have a character that refers to her fiend as "chica." I use it about fifteen times. Do I:

1. Always put it in italics?
2. Never put it in italics because it's a fairly well-known word? Or is it not that well known?
3. Put only the first use in italics.

Thanks!!!

absitinvidia
03-30-2012, 01:16 AM
I've read varying guides to the use of foreign words, so I'm looking for a little direction here.

In my novel, I have a character that refers to her fiend as "chica." I use it about fifteen times. Do I:

1. Always put it in italics?
2. Never put it in italics because it's a fairly well-known word? Or is it not that well known?
3. Put only the first use in italics.

Thanks!!!


A foreign word that is familiar to most readers doesn't necessarily need to be italicized, especially if this character uses it a lot. I'd go with option #2.

GingerGunlock
03-30-2012, 01:46 AM
A foreign word that is familiar to most readers doesn't necessarily need to be italicized, especially if this character uses it a lot. I'd go with option #2.


I do think I agree with this. I would not italicize "amigo". I would italicize "n'est-ce pas?"

blacbird
03-30-2012, 04:39 AM
This is a tricky one. English is so quick and seamless in adopting words from other languages, that some quickly become everyday parlance, familiar to all. A recent example would be "jihad". So it's something of a judgment call. I wouldn't, for example, italicize:

tortilla
bungalow
entrepreneur
sushi
kayak
tomahawk
pasta

But things spoken in dialogue in other languages, such as "Buenos días," I would italicize, even though the phrase is familiar to just about everybody. And if you have a word you think is unfamiliar enough that you have to explain its meaning, I would italicize.
caw

Jonathan Dalar
03-30-2012, 07:11 PM
Blacbird summed it up well. It is somewhat an interesting animal, this gradual morphing of the English language to include foreign words as its own. So many English words are actually foreign words that probably half a novel would be italicized if one were to italicize all of them. Most would not be, simply because they've become too common in usage and accepted as bona fide English.

In your example, I probably wouldn't italicize "Chica" if the majority of use is as a nickname for a character by someone who speaks English normally.

Snick
03-30-2012, 07:47 PM
If you italicized all of the foreign words in English, then you would write largely in italics, so I agree with the bird.

krashnburn
03-30-2012, 07:50 PM
Thanks everyone!

boron
03-31-2012, 12:35 AM
In biology, genus and species of living organisms are italicized because of a rule called "binomal nomenclature," which applies to all languages...

For example, a bacterium Staphylococcus aureus can cause skin infections.

This short guide (http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/department/docs/punctuation/node35.html) says that completely foreign words (spelled in the original language), among other, should be italicized.

Medievalist
03-31-2012, 12:47 AM
1. The dictionary (unabridged) is a good guide.

2. Don't italicize in mss. that you submit for print publication unless the editor /publisher tell you it's OK; use underlines.

blacbird
03-31-2012, 09:24 AM
This short guide (http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/department/docs/punctuation/node35.html) says that completely foreign words (spelled in the original language), among other, should be italicized.

And is therefore ridiculous. Words adopted from other languages abound in common everyday English, in their completely original "foreign" spellings. I listed several in my preceding comment. Do you really intend to italicize:

wiener
matador
avocado
fiord
champagne

?


caw

Xelebes
03-31-2012, 10:40 AM
I do think I agree with this. I would not italicize "amigo". I would italicize "n'est-ce pas?"

I think it would depend on the local jargons. If it is outside of what is used, italicise it.

Medievalist
03-31-2012, 11:02 AM
The brutal truth is that should your magnum opus be accepted for publication, whether or not a "foreign" word is italicized is entirely dependent on the house style sheet, the house dictionary, and the whim of the typesetter.

Just standardize one way or the other in the ms. and fugeddabout it.

boron
03-31-2012, 02:58 PM
And is therefore ridiculous. Words adopted from other languages abound in common everyday English, in their completely original "foreign" spellings. I listed several in my preceding comment. Do you really intend to italicize:

wiener
matador
avocado
fiord
champagne

?

caw

None of these words are foreign enough.

MarkEsq
04-04-2012, 09:35 PM
The brutal truth is that should your magnum opus be accepted for publication, whether or not a "foreign" word is italicized is entirely dependent on the house style sheet, the house dictionary, and the whim of the typesetter.

Just standardize one way or the other in the ms. and fugeddabout it.


I so wish this were true! I'm facing this dilemma right now - my publisher uses the Chicago Manual of Style which says use italics the first time the word is used, thereafter not. Problem is, this looks weird, almost accidental to me. In my case, it's French and I use the occasional word to indicate the conversation is in French.

So, we're having an ongoing discussion and they say they're willing to do it how I like. Which leaves three choices:

1. All italics
2. No italics
3. Italics the first time the word is used.

I'm leaning towards #1 right now.

A follow up: do you find reading italics jarring? Slows down the reading? Or would a foreign word NOT in italics be confusing?!

Help!