Non-English Words and Phrases

The IEEE Computer Society is a worldwide organization, but its publications are produced in the United States in English. The way Society publications deal with non-English terms and phrases depends on several factors, namely

  • the true "foreignness" of the expression—many non-English expressions have entered mainstream English,
  • the availability of appropriate accented fonts,
  • the staff's familiarity with languages other than English, and
  • the extent of the non-English readership of the publication(s) and the degree to which the Society desires to appeal to that audience.

Here are some guidelines for using non-English terms:

  • Use accents in anglicized foreign terms when they affect pronunciation or when they will prevent confusion between English words that are spelled the same.
  • Italicize terms not commonly accepted in English, but generally use such terms in text only when there is no suitable English equivalent. The way to determine whether a term is commonly accepted in English is to see whether it is in the main body of Webster's dictionary—if it is, don't italicize.
  • Transliterate non-Roman languages into the Roman alphabet. Use the transliterated phrase, an English translation, or both.
  • For non-English institutional names, use the original name for spellings using the Roman alphabet, providing a translation if the reader might not understand. This approach works well with organizations whose acronyms are well known, such as CCITT (Comité Consultatif International de Télégraphique et Téléphonique), because using a translation (International Consultative Committee for Telegraphy and Telephony) followed by the acronym could confuse some readers. This same guideline applies to university names in bylines and references. In some cases, the non-English acronym is well known and always associated with the English translation. An example is the European Center for Nuclear Research, which is widely known by its French acronym, CERN.
  • For non-English references, provide the original title first, but follow it with the English translation in brackets so that English-only readers can understand it. Follow English capitalization rules in the translated title. If you don't have a translation or can't translate the title, query the author of the article (who presumably has read the work and can translate the title). If the author cannot provide a translation, propose deleting the reference.
  • For author names, always follow the author's preference. However, if the accents required are not readily available in the Society font list, ask the author for English equivalents.