Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Almost three years ago I blogged here on the ever-vexing subject of citation of Chinese sources in English. That sparked a good discussion in the comments section. The other day, another commenter (Stian Håklev) happened across this post and added some very helpful remarks, which I reproduce below.
I absolutely agree with you, this is a huge problem. The absolutely worst is articles that only have translated versions, there is not even anything to tell you that the original is not in English (The Journal of Higher Education in China could be an English language journal - but it isn't, how are we to know though?). Pinyin is better, but still not ideal. And especially with the atrocious preference in APA for only using the autors initials. If I see a person cited as 李生桥, I might say "Oh, that's the person whose paper I was reading the other day", but if I see a reference to "Li, X.", it's quite useless. [Comment from DC: Bravo!]
I struggled with this when I was writing my MA thesis about China, and I did quite a bit of research (weird that nobody have really addressed this problem). I finally found that Chicago allowed me to include both the characters, the pinyin and the English translation, which to me was ideal. I wrote about this solution here: http://reganmian.net/blog/2010/05/06/how-to-cite-chinese-sources-in-chicago-style/
I used this in my MA thesis, which is available for download from here: http://reganmian.net/top-level-courses. This practice also served me well when I had the thesis translated to Chinese (I will release it on that blog in a few days) - I could just take out the pinyin and English, and I had a Chinese source list.
Thank you for raising this issue. We should try to push for these practices to change. In regular journals that do not specialize in China, we will probably have to settle for Pinyin, but never only English, and ideally the full name rather than just initials. But in journals and monographs dealing specifically with China, written by sinologists, I think we should expect characters as well!
Stian / 侯爽