Feature Request: Multiple Language Titles

I cite a lot of German sources in an English-language thesis. It is my practice to provide the reader with an English translation of the title; for example: Die romantische Schule: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des deutschen Geistes [The Romantic School: a Contribution to the History of the German Spirit].

N.B. I am citing a German source, not a book that is a translation or a multiple-language book. I use MHRA 3, in which square brackets indicate something inserted by the author. MHRA3 does not specify how a translation is to be treated in a citation title; not italicising the translation is my personal aesthetic preference. I have not investigated other citation standards.

In the present Zotero system one has to manually enter the translation into the Title field. That has disadvantages:
1. If I want to translate into a different language, I have to create a completely separate item. When I wrote an article in French, I had to duplicate the items for all the references I used and substitute a French translation of the German title for the English one.
2. I have to capitalise the title correctly myself and make sure the language of the item is set to ‘de’ or ‘zxx’ (anything but English).
3. If I were to change to a citation standard that requires a different notation than square brackets, I would have to change them all manually.
4. I would prefer the translation not to be italicised, but Zotero treats the whole field as a single Title and italicises all of it.
5. WORD treats the whole citation as being in the language of the surrounding text. I can set that to German or English but Zotero incorrectly shows spelling errors in the other language.

The solution is to have one or more ‘Title translation’ fields in an item. Each would have the text of a translation and an indication of the language of the translation. In the preferences there should be options for how translations are displayed if not specified by the citation standard in use, e.g. with square brackets or round brackets, and whether the text and/or the brackets should be italicised or not. Somewhere we need to tell Zotero the language of the current document. All fields specifying the language should be constrained to a variant of ISO 639 (converted automatically in new imports or on request) to ensure consistency.

In a citation Zotero would then format the original language Title using the item's main language field, as now. If applicable, this would be followed by the translation for the language that matches the document language, using the correct form of the brackets (square non-italicised in my case) and capitalised according to its own language, italicised or not as preferred. Ideally the citation will include the WORD codes that specify the language of each part, so that the spelling checker works correctly.

The change is backwards-compatible because a translation is only provided at all if there is a translation field present with a language matching the document language. Blank translation fields would leave the title as it is now.
  • Juris-m does this already in a pretty sophisticated way, mostly along the lines of what you're describing, but I don't think, beyond including original-title (which already exists in CSL) in Zotero, you'll see much development on this front in the short-medium term.
  • Thanks for the Juris-m tip. That does indeed appear to offer the language features I seek (though at the time of writing I cannot get it to work with Word for Mac)
  • What do you mean by that? What exactly isn’t working?
  • I got "Jurism Integration Error" when I tried to insert a citation, even in a blank document. There was a button that took me to the standard Zotero troubleshooting page, which was not applicable in this case.

    After fiddling for a while I finally fixed it by uninstalling the Zotero connector in Word, then reinstalling it from Juris-m preferences. The Juris-m manual doesn't say anything about that!

    It's all working now and I have become an enthusiastic Juris-m user. It does all the multi-language stuff I wanted and has a good user interface. The transition was relatively painless (apart from that one point I mentioned), i.e. it easily connects to the existing Zotero database and imports everything. It works fine in MacOS and Windows.
  • Usually, you wouldn't have to uninstall Zotero to use Juris-M. I experienced this issue too, but only when having both applications open at the same time.
  • I only uninstalled the Zotero add-on in Word, by unticking the box in the add-ons list, then re-installing it from Juris-m. I don't know why this is necessary or why it works, but it is and it did, in both MacOS and Windows.

    You can't open both Zotero and Juris-m at the same time. You get a message saying only one instance of Zotero can be open.

    I probably will uninstall the Zotero app as it is not needed for Juris-m, but I did not yet.
  • It’s solved for you, so just for the record:

    - You can open both at the same time but it can’t happen by accident.
    - Another issue with Zotero and Juris-M in parallel which I remember now: using a Word document with Zotero first and switching to Juris-M while not closing and reopening the document will make the Juris-M plugin crash. Once the plugin crashed, you’d have to close Juris-M and restart it. Failing to do so you won’t get a working Juris-M plugin in any Word document, neither already open ones nor in any new ones. Closing both applications and reopening them should do the trick.

    In general, when the Juris-M plugin crashes, closing and reopening Juris-M would be enough, according to my experience.
  • Thanks. I reported my experience and it is working satisfactorily now.
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