When translating from a language that does not use roman characters, like Chinese, do I include the original characters or a transliteration? And how do I alphabetize titles of nonroman works?

In its publications, the MLA prefers to give the original characters (script) and a translation for titles and quotations; it also includes transliteration in some of its publications, especially those geared for nonspecialists. Nowadays all three elements can be useful to readers searching for a source on the Internet. Aside from this practical reason, we feel that using the original characters shows a respect for the foreign language that once was generally not shown in academic work.

In the text of your essay, include the elements in whatever order makes sense in your discussion. For example, there is more than one way to present an Arabic term:

matn (متن; “substance”)
متن (matn; “substance”)
substance (متن; matn)

In the list of works cited, titles of works in languages that do not use roman characters should appear in this order: original characters, then transliteration (if included), then translation. If all the entries under an author’s name are in the foreign language, alphabetize according to the rules of the language (list 1). If some of the entries are in the foreign language and some in English, provide transliterations and alphabetize by transliteration (list 2).

Works-Cited List 1: All Russian Entries

Tolstoy, Leo. Дневники 1895, 1896 г [Dnevniki 1895, 1896 g.; Diaries for the years 1895, 1986]. Tolstoy, Лев Толстой [Lev Tolstoĭ], vol. 53, p. 4.

---. Крейцерова соната [Kreĭt͡serova sonata; Kreutzer Sonata]. Tolstoy, Лев Толстой [Lev Tolstoĭ], vol. 27, pp. 5-78.

---. Лев Толстой: Полное собрание сочинений [Lev Tolstoĭ: Polnoe sobranie sochineniĭ; Leo Tolstoy: Complete Collected Works]. Khudozhestvennai͡a literatura, 1928-58. 

---. Послесловие к Крейцеровой сонате [Posleslovie k Kreĭt͡serovoĭ sonate; Afterword to Kreutzer Sonata]. Tolstoy, Лев Толстой [Lev Tolstoĭ], vol. 27, pp. 78-92.

Works-Cited List 2: Mix of Russian and English Entries

Tolstoy, Leo. Afterword to Kreutzer Sonata. 1890. The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories, translated by Louise Maude et al., Oxford UP, 1999, pp. 163-77. 

---. Дневники 1895, 1896 г [Dnevniki 1895, 1896 g.; Diaries for the years 1895, 1986]. Tolstoy, Лев Толстой [Lev Tolstoĭ], vol. 53, p 4.

---. Крейцерова соната [Kreĭt͡serova sonata; Kreutzer Sonata]. Tolstoy, Лев Толстой [Lev Tolstoĭ], vol. 27, pp. 5-78.

---. The Kreutzer Sonata. 1890. Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy, translated by Louise Maude et al., Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2004, pp. 353-450.

---. Лев Толстой: Полное собрание сочинений [Lev Tolstoĭ: Polnoe sobranie sochineniĭ; Leo Tolstoy: Complete Collected Works]. Khudozhestvennai͡a literatura, 1928-58. 

---. Послесловие к Крейцеровой сонате [Posleslovie k Kreĭt͡serovoĭ sonate; Afterword to Kreutzer Sonata]. Tolstoy, Лев Толстой [Lev Tolstoĭ], vol. 27, pp. 78-92.

---. What Is Art? Translated by Almyer Maude, Bobbs Merrill, 1960.

Note that we provide not the original script but only a transliteration for the name of a person or publisher.

Published 8 February 2017

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