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August 26, 2010

Apples to תפ׀חים

Daisies by Stefanie

No film student’s education is complete until he or she watches 七人の侍 by the influential director 黒澤 明.

Wait, what? Who?

In our increasingly interconnected and multilingual world, it is not uncommon for people, researchers especially, to go beyond local or national borders in the quest for insight and knowledge. This may seem great at the information compilation stage, but once the time to create a reference list rolls around, confusion sets in. If I am writing a paper in English for my film class in New York, does 黒澤 明 come before, after, or between Hitchcock and Peckinpah when I am alphabetizing my reference list (pretend, for a moment, that the director and not the producer comes first when creating movie references; see the Publication Manual, sixth edition, p. 209, on the specifics of movie reference formatting)?

That’s somewhat of a trick question. First, the director and movie title need to be transliterated: that is, converted to the alphabet one is using to write a paper. In this example, I am using the Latin alphabet. Alphabetizing cannot happen if the references are not in the same alphabet! So, 七人の侍 transliterated is Shichinin no Samurai, and 黒澤 明 is revealed to be Kurosawa Akira (or Akira Kurosawa once the name is put in Western order—i.e., family name last—to standardize the treatment of names across references). The final reference for this great film would look like this:

Motoki, S. (Producer), & Kurosawa, A. (Director). (1954). Shichinin no 
samurai
[Seven samurai; motion picture]. Japan: Toho.
Seven_Samurai_poster

Please note that if you are not familiar with the language you need to transliterate and translate, please find someone who is that can help, if possible. Also, if (a) you are familiar with the language being transliterated and translated and (b) you translate all of the titles for the references, thank you for your effort, but this does not earn you translator credit in the reference.

What other questions about foreign-language sources have you run into while compiling your reference lists?

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