How do I quote English-language sources in a foreign-language paper?

To quote an English-language source in a foreign-language paper, follow the guidelines in section 1.3.8 of the MLA Handbook on translating quotations (90–91). Let’s say you are writing your paper in German. When you need to quote an English text, present the quotation in English followed by a translation of it into German. Or, if you think that most of your readers (such as your instructor and your fellow students) can read English, you may leave out the German translation.

The following example shows how to format an English-language quotation in a German-language paper, as well as how to cite and document the sources of the quotations. In the first instance, the translation is provided; in the second, the translation is omitted.

Der Roman Moby-Dick fängt mit drei Wörter an: “Call me Ishmael” ‘Nennt mich Ismael’ (14; 33).

Works Cited

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. Dover Publications, 2003.

---. Moby-Dick oder der Wal. Translated by Matthias Jendis, Carl Hanser Verlag, 2001.

Der Roman Moby-Dick fängt mit drei Wörter an: “Call me Ishmael” (14).

Work Cited

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. Dover Publications, 2003.

In the example containing both the English text and its German translation, the quotation and its translation are followed by a parenthetical citation of the relevant page numbers from both the English and German sources—the first corresponds to the English edition, the second to the German translation. Because both the English and German sources are quoted, the list of works cited contains entries for both the English and German editions. In the example containing only the English text, the quotation is followed by a citation of a single page number, corresponding to the English text, and the works-cited list contains an entry for the English edition only.

Work Cited

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

Published 6 May 2020

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