The puzzle: Should all French language be in italics? What should I do about the accents?
I looked up what I could and got conflicting advice. I checked my markets to see what they did - all differed wildly. A few even refuse to publish articles with small amounts of French used to create atmosphere.
So I consulted my editor extraordinaire, Joyce Gram. Turns out, it's a knotty problem. Here's her initial rundown of what to do about French in English text:
- Don't italicize French place or people's names.
- Consider deleting all accents, since the article is in English. But you should use accents for French words in italics used as French. For example, a sculpture called La Dame à l’offrande.
- There is an entire chapter called “French in English Context” in Editing Canadian English, 2nd edition.
- Regarding people’s names, the above book says, “Every effort should b
Cézanne (image via Wikipedia)
- The only grey area is for words that have come into English. Dictionaries differ: for example, protege (Canadian Oxford) or protégé (Webster’s and Concise Oxford).
- But, Joyce says, don’t change château, as that’s in both the Canadian Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries.
So, what to do? I fell back on the old tried and true rules, consistency and publishers’ guidelines. However my travel editors, it seems, know less about this issue than Joyce and most don't have guidelines on this issue. But, definitely I will keep Cézanne’s accent.
With much appreciation to Joyce Gram who has allowed me to quote from and paraphrase her advice above. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.gramediting.com.
Question: How do you manage foreign language in your English text?