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Should et al. be italicized in MLA style?

Only italicize et al., meaning “and others,” if it is referred to as a term, as the examples in this sentence and the question above show. In parenthetical citations and works-cited-list entries, the abbreviation should be set roman, as shown in the MLA Handbook (116, 22):

(Burdick et al. 42)
Burdick, Anne, et al. Digital_Humanities. MIT P, 2012.

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

Published 17 January 2019

I am writing a paper in English. I have used the French edition of a book originally published in Dutch. Do I need to include both the French and Dutch editions in my works-cited list?

List only the version you are using—in this case, the French edition. You do not need to indicate in your entry the language in which the work was originally published or to provide original publication details, but if you wish to do so, you may include the information in the optional-element slot at the end:

Benali, Abdelkader. Le tant attendu. Translated by Daniel Cunin, Actes Sud, 2011. Originally published in Dutch as De langverwachte (Vassallucci, 2002).

Alternatively, you may provide the original publication details in an endnote at first mention of the work in your prose.
  . . .

Published 9 October 2018

Should I italicize titles not written in the Latin alphabet?

No. Note that there are many languages in the world that do not have an italic font—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Armenian, for example. Arabic sometimes uses a typeface that slants to the left instead of to the right.
Given the complexity and specificity of historical, cultural, linguistic, and printing practices throughout the world, a writer should not use italics when a book title is in a foreign language that is not written in the Latin alphabet. If you are preparing a work for publication, leave the decision about italicizing such a title to the publisher.
For more on italicizing titles not written in the Latin alphabet, . . .

Published 19 September 2018

How should Icelandic names be cited?

Many Icelandic names consist of a first name and a matronymic or patronymic, not a family name:

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (that is, Björk, Guðmund’s daughter) 
Gunnar Karlsson (or Gunnar, son of Karl)

In a nonspecialist context, reverse the names in the works-cited-list entry:

Karlsson, Gunnar. The History of Iceland. U of Minnesota P, 2000.

The corresponding works-cited-list entry would thus use the matronymic or patronymic to key the in-text citation to the entry:

(Karlsson 35)

Another practice, followed by the Scandinavian Studies journal and suitable for book-length specialist works like those in Icelandic studies, is to begin the entry with the first name: 

Gunnar Karlsson.

Published 28 May 2018

Should I translate names of foreign institutions?

In your works-cited-list entry, provide the name of a foreign institution in the original language if that is how it is presented in your source. In the following example, the publisher’s name is given in the original language:

Dieulafoy, Jane. Papiers et correspondance de Marcel et Jane Dieulafoy. Manuscripts de la Bibliothèque de l’Institut de France, Paris. 

Names of  institutions in languages that do not use the Roman alphabet (Russian, Greek, Hebrew, etc.) are almost always presented in transliteration. In this example, the publisher’s name is given in transliteration:

Šklovskij, Viktor. Жизнь художника Федотова [The Life of the Artist Fedotov]. Izdatelʹstvo detskoy literatury, . . .

Published 13 March 2018

In my works-cited-list entry, how do I give the title of a foreign work that is provided on the title page in both English and the original language?

When referring to a work in a bilingual volume in which titles appear in both languages, give both titles and interpolate a slash between them. The slash has a space on each side when the title on either side contains a space:

Leopardi, Giacomo. “Storia del genere umano / History of the Human Race.” Operette morali / Essays and Dialogues, translated and introduced by Giovanni Cecchetti, U of California P, 1982, pp. 22-55.

Published 11 December 2017

Should my student provide both English and Chinese versions of a works-cited-list entry when citing a work in Chinese?

In its publications, the MLA prefers to provide works-cited-list entries in the original script, along with a translation and sometimes a transliteration, for works not written in roman characters (see our previous post). In a teaching context, however, it is fine to allow students to provide works-cited-list entries in English only.

Published 28 February 2018

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; . . .

Published 8 February 2017

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