From the Wikipedia page on Japanese punctuation:

Double quotation marks (二重鉤括弧, nijūkagikakko) are used to mark quotes within quotes: 「...『...』...」 as well as to mark book titles (Japanese does not have italic type, and does not use sloping type for this purpose in Japanese.) They are also sometimes used in fiction to denote text that is heard through a telephone or other device.

Wikipedia says that these quotation marks are used to mark Japanese books, so I was wondering if I should respect Japanese punctuation rules when providing the English and the Japanese name of the book when the Japanese book was traanslated into English so that the people reading my text can immediately read the Japanese book to see if the quoted passage in my book or my own interpretation might be wrong due to translation errors.

  • 3
    +1 for being concerned about doing it correctly. Likely it will depend to some extent on the publisher. And possibly the type of publication such as a scholarly journal vs a novel vs a popular magazine. You should get in touch with the editor (or similar person) at the publisher you hope to publish with. Or similar person such as your prof when it is something like an essay for a university class.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 0:40
  • Keep in mind that Japanese and English do not trans late on a one to one basis, so unless you read the original Japanese document, you would want to cite your translation copy since any differences in the wording of their translation from the wording from another will originate from your translated source, not the original text. Your citation format will also likely have rules for this, so consult those.
    – hszmv
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 16:59
  • Doesn't katakana translate to English (technically Latin characters) 1:1? Isn't that the point of that alphabet? (I'm not 100% certain, tbh)
    – kmunky
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 17:42
  • 1
    @kmunky: Katakana doesn't translate to English on a 1:1 because written English uses phonemes (symbols that represent a specific word) while Katakana uses syllabary (symbols represent syllables) and Kanji uses logographics (symbols represent word or phrases). Katakana was actually created to translate Chinese to Japanese and had to invent new symbols when it encountered European languages (Japanese has very few sounds compared to European Languages). Additionally, it was used to avoid ateji occuring in Kanji (where the sound of the character is used without respect for the meaning) +
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 12:48
  • 1
    @kmunky: To give an example of a common ateji, the Kanji representation for the word "sushi" is 寿司 as each character is pronounced with the corresponding syllable sound (寿 = su, 司 = shi) but because Kanji is logographic, both characters have a specific meaning neither of which have anything to do with food or fish ('寿' means "one's natural life span" and '司' means "to administer").
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


Think of the opposite situation. If the text would be in Japanese, would you use Japanese formatting for parts of the text that are in English? If the text is in English, I recommend using English formatting.

As a side note, I would not use quotation marks on a book title, if not requested by the publisher explicitly.

  • You have simply restated the question from the other perspective. That doesn't provide an answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 16:42

The basic and universal rule is that you must cite a source exactly as it is given. This means that if you cite text with different punctuation, of course you reproduce that punctuation exactly.

For example, citing Spanish in English text:

This is a citation of a Spanish text: “¿Has ido alguna vez a España?” Did you notice the upside down question markt at the beginning of the sentence? I'm sure you did.

Quotation marks are an exception to this rule when citing from languages written using Latin letters. For example, the French guillemets (and the thin space surrounding them) of the original French source are turned to curly quotes (and no space) when you cite it in an English text.

The original French

L’ouvreuse m’a dit : « Donnez-moi votre ticket. » Je le lui ai donné.


This is a citation from French: “L’ouvreuse m’a dit : ‘Donnez-moi votre ticket.’ Je le lui ai donné.”

But non-Latin alphabets are treated differently. The MLA Handbook says (section 6.76, paywalled): "Quotations from works in a language not written in the Latin alphabet (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Russian) should be given consistently in the original writing system or in transliteration." (my emphasis)

This means that if you don't transliterate your text, you retain the original Japanese quotes and punctuation.

Other style guides (Chicago, APA) make the same recommendation.

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