Arabic names with the particle al-


I have an English-language bibliography with a number of Arabic names in Latinized form. The desired form is al-Ghazali, al-Raysuni, etc., and I would like the "al-" particle to be ignored in alphabetical sorting, so that "al-Raysuni" follows e.g. "Peters" in the bibliography.

As far as I can see Zotero (v3.0.14) does not recognize a hyphenated particle as a particle. Thus entering the given name as "al-Ghazali", as I would have liked, results in the wrong alphabetical sort order; it is sorted under A not G.

If I enter the given name as "al Ghazali", the "al" is treated as a particle. This does gives me the sort order I want.

However, the name is formatted as "Al Ghazali" -- with a space instead of the desired hyphen, and an uppercase "Al" where the desired formatting, for my present work at least, is lowercase. Is there a way to get the hyphenation and capitalization the way I want it?
  • I'll need to adjust the citation processor for this. Let me think it over for a day or two. When I have a revised version of the processor ready, I'll send a pointer to this thread so you can install it for testing.
  • Wonderful! Let me know in this thread if anything is unclear.

    I should note that opinions and style requirements differ, particularly on the use of case, so there may not be one appropriate rule. The hyphenation is a bigger deal.

    A note starting with the author name Ahmad al-Ghazali would work as "Ahmad al-Ghazali" (my preference) or "Ahmad Al-Ghazali". Without the hyphenation, "Ahmad Al Ghazali" would not be unusual, but "Ahmad al Ghazali", the current behavior, is unusual.
  • Thanks for this additional info. It's very helpful.
  • edited March 22, 2013
    When a hyphenated particle is rendered in sort order (say in a bibliography), should an ordinarily-lowercase particle be capitalised if it is at the very start of the entry? That is, should it be "Al-Ghazali, Ahmad" if this is the first-listed author at the start of a bib entry? Or would it be more natural (or common) to retain "al-Ghazali" in this position?
  • I've made some changes to the processor that should come close to handling these particles correctly. You can test it by installing the processor patch plugin. (Uninstall it when the next version of Zotero comes out.)
  • Thanks for the impressively fast and helpful response! With the patch, Zotero now handles hyphens and sort order as desired.

    That leaves case. I've had a look through my bookshelves. At the beginning of a reference-list entry, the most common practice by far is to lower-case the hyphenated particle, e.g.:

    al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. (...)

    The logic, I guess, is to call attention to the name and the letter by which it is sorted, rather than the particle.

    The Chicago Manual, 15th ed., section 18.74, actually holds that the article should be treated like /de/ in French names, that is, demoted to the end:

    Hakim, Tawfiq al-

    But that does not seem to be the most common actual practice.

    I would say that it should be uppercased if it appears at the beginning of a footnote, e.g. a shortened note like:

    33. Al-Ghazali, /Incoherence of the Philosophers/.

    My rationale is that footnotes are expected to look sentence-like, so the first letter should be upper-cased no matter what.

    Is it possible to customoize these behaviors in CSL styles?
  • edited March 23, 2013

    If you update the patch plugin, you should get lowercase on the hyphenated particles now.

  • edited March 23, 2013
    Thanks, Frank!

    With the update, I get my author-date citations and reference list exactly as I want them.

    It even handles a whole class of cases that I failed to mention: when the "l" in "al-" is assimilated to the following consonant, e.g. at-Tusi, an-Nawawi, ash-Shafi'i.

    It doesn't work with diacritics, though, so the fully transliterated form aṭ-Ṭūsī -- that's "t with dot below" -- is still sorted under "A". At some point, someone will need that to work also.

    And where the particle is at the beginning of a (shortened) footnote, uppercase might be preferable.

    For present purposes, though (using author-date citations and simplified transliteration of names), this solves all my problems.
  • It doesn't work with diacritics, though, so the fully transliterated form aṭ-Ṭūsī -- that's "t with dot below" -- is still sorted under "A". At some point, someone will need that to work also.
    Ah, right. This is done with pattern matching, and it has its weaknesses. There might be a way to make the rule more general, I'm not sure: my knowledge doesn't stretch that far.

    Discriminating on footnotes is possible, but we're not yet sure how the European languages should handle that case either. We'll see if a position arises from discussion on the CSL dev list.

    Meanwhile, it's great to hear that we've improved things today.
  • Thanks, Frank -- this happens to be just the fix I need this week! I've successfully used your patch to get the right citation in Word while using Zotero for Firefox, but I prefer to use Zotero there a way to apply your patch to the standalone version?
  • Zotero Standalone will be updated (including Frank's patch) most likely within the next week.
    Otherwise, you can try if the plugin works in standalone - you can install it using tools-->add-ons and the install from file option.
  • Thanks for your quick reply! I'm glad to have learned how to install patches, though it doesn't seem to correct the citation in this case. I'll look forward to the Standalone update.
  • I think this patch has not yet been included in standard Zotero distribution. I'm currently using Zotero standalone 4.0.27 and the MS-Word plugin, but a surname such as al-Kindi is still sorted in bibliography under 'A', not 'K'.
  • Hi, sorry to reopen this, but how can I enable this feature? At the moment zotero is not ignoring the al- particle:

    al-Masʿūdī. (1966). Murūǧ al-ḏahan wa maʿādin al-ǧāwhar. A cura di Charles Pellat. Bayruth: al-Ǧāmīʿa al-Lubnāniyya.
    al-Ṭabarī. (1964). Taʾrīḫ al-rusul wa al-mulūk. A cura di M. G. de Goeje. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
    De Blois, François. (2014). «Some early Islamic and Christian Sources regarding the Jewish Calendar (9th-11th centuries)». In Time, Astronomy, and Calendars in the Jewish Tradition, a cura di Sacha Stern e Charles Burnett, 65–78. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
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