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Policies & Practices > Rule to follow for titles of books in French

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message 1: by André (last edited Sep 20, 2019 05:19AM) (new)

André (alfarrabiste) | 1341 comments After discussions with various colleagues related to some specific issues and checking documents by French authoritative institutions (AFNOR and enssib for librarians, Imprimerie nationale for typographs and Académie française for authors), I have tried to summarise what I think should be the rules for titles of vooks in French.

1. Respect French diacritics (it means that you probably need to have a French keyboard). It seems that the absence of diaritivs in a lot of files related to books in French comes from Amazon blind bots. For the use French diacritics, see the Wikipedia page : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diacrit...

2. In French, the decision on using capitals in a title is quite complex and a matter of discussions. The use of capitals is not as systematic than in English.

In order to respect the French rules be on the same time operational and elegant, I strongly recommend to respect the title as written in the title page (not the cover page) of the book. In principle, this format will also be used in the catalogues of the publishers which may be used as reference.

This basic rule may be different from the rules applied in English, but it has various justifications and advantages :

1. It follows Goodreads general rules to respect usages of specific cultures and languages.

2. it respects the French norm for catalography defined by the French normalisation authority, the AFNOR in its norm
Z 044-050 Catalogage des monographies - Texte imprimé- Rédaction de la description bibliographique.

See the paragraph 1.1.5 (p.395) :
"1.1.5.1 Le titre propre est transcrit tel qu'il figure sur la page de titre ou son substitut. Toutefois, des modifications peuvent être faites dans l'emploi des majuscules et dans la ponctuation : l'emploi des majuscules est soumis à l'usage de la langue de la page de titre ; on doit éviter tout risque de confusion avec la ponctuation prescrite dans la zone"
Source : Normes de catalogage. Tome 1 Formation des bibliothécaires et documentalistes, Afnor éditions, 2011.

3. It also respects the basic principle defined by the Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'Imprimerie nationale for citations, which is to respect the choice of the author.

See : http://www.circaete.net/eric/Lexique%... ... p.168



4. It respect the moral right of the author, a principle strongly implemented in French culture.

5. It is very easy to implement.

For more details, you may look at the website of the enssib (the French National School for Sciences of Information and Libraries) :
https://www.enssib.fr/services-et-res...

For people who whish to know the rules defined by the Académie française, see http://www.academie-francaise.fr/ques...
, in particular at point 7 quoted below)

My point of view is that those rules by the Académie are defined mainly for authors and publishers rather than for librarians. If an author (with the appoval of his/her publisher) has decided to transgress the rules, the librarian should respect this transgression. A good example is the title of Melvyn Poupaud book Quel est Mon noM ? : all catalogues (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Amazon.fr, Google Books, Goodreads) respect this transgression.

Rules defined by the Académie française :

"7. Majuscules dans les titres d’œuvres

Dans tous les titres d’œuvres, le premier terme au moins (ainsi bien sûr que les noms propres) prend la majuscule.

Si le titre commence par un article défini, le premier nom qui suit cet article ainsi que les adjectifs et adverbes le précédant éventuellement prennent la majuscule : Les Misérables, Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Le Petit Chaperon rouge, Le Vilain Petit Canard.

L’article défini en tête de l’œuvre ne prend la majuscule que s’il fait intrinsèquement partie du titre, et n’est pas contracté : l’Iliade ; Les Bienveillantes, mais un chapitre des Bienveillantes.

Si le titre ne débute pas par un article défini ou s’il consiste en une phrase conjuguée, seul le premier terme prend la majuscule (sauf s’il s’agit d’un adjectif : dans ce cas, le substantif suivant prend aussi la majuscule) : À la recherche du temps perdu, Terre des hommes, Un taxi mauve, Le train sifflera trois fois, Tristes Tropiques.

Si le titre est double ou s’il met en opposition ou en parallèle deux termes, on applique les règles précédemment citées aux deux parties du titre, mais si la deuxième partie est introduite par un article défini, celui-ci perd sa majuscule : Le Rouge et le Noir, Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique."


message 2: by lethe (last edited Sep 20, 2019 05:00AM) (new)

lethe | 13747 comments See also my comment, now at #45, in the corrections thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

If, as you now say, the rules by the Académie are defined mainly for authors and publishers, the authors/publishers(/book designers/typographers) do a very poor job of following those rules.

If we were to respect those transgressions, we would be stuck with a lot of titles in all-caps and in some cases with all lower case titles, and capitalization could even differ from edition to edition. There would be no consistency at all.

Of course authors/publishers/book designers/typographers are free to ignore a language's capitalization rules *in their own books*, but that has no bearing on how the titles should be added elsewhere, such as library catalogues or book databases like Goodreads.

In specific cases, such as the one you mention (Quel est Mon noM ?) exceptions can be made, but I maintain that in the vast majority of cases, how a book's title is rendered on the title page (or cover) is merely a typographical or design choice. It has no context outside the book.

By the way, the French rules for catalographers are not different from the rules of the Académie. They basically say "Take the title as on the title page, modifying the capitalization and punctuation according to the rules of the language in question".

Some other comments:

Under the first 2. you say to respect the title as written on the title page, not the cover. Goodreads policy, however, is to add the title as it appears on the cover page. That means that if both titles are different, the cover title takes precedence. If the title page shows a subtitle and the cover doesn't, policy is not to add the subtitle. (Hey, their system, their rules. If you want to complain about the policy, please contact staff.)

Under 3. you say the basic principle defined by the Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'Imprimerie nationale for citations is to respect the choice of the author. There is nothing about that in the pages you mentioned (168-171). According to the Typographisme blog, that principle pertains exclusively to citations.

All your links here appear broken. That is because copy/paste only works in edit mode. But some of the links may be found in this comment in the corrections thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 3: by André (last edited Sep 20, 2019 06:08AM) (new)

André (alfarrabiste) | 1341 comments lethe wrote: "If, as you now say, the rules by the Académie are defined mainly for authors and publishers, the authors/publishers(/book designers/typographers) do a very poor job of following those rules .

Well, if you know a bit of the history of the French languages and institutions, you may be aware that, indeed, the normative rules of the Académie are far of beeing respected. The fact is that you do not rule languages by decree. See the book by my professor and friend, the great linguist Jean-Marie Klinkenberg
By the way, the French rules for catalographers are not different from the rules of the Académie. They basically say "Take the title as on the title page, modifying the capitalization and punctuation according to the rules of the language in question".

This not what the AFNOR rules says. The text is "1.1.5.1 Le titre propre est transcrit tel qu'il figure sur la page de titre ou son substitut. Toutefois, des modifications peuvent être faites dans l'emploi des majuscules et dans la ponctuation : l'emploi des majuscules est soumis à l'usage de la langue de la page de titre ; on doit éviter tout risque de confusion avec la ponctuation prescrite dans la zone" In French, "toutefois" means "however" and "peuvent être faites" means "may be done" and not "should be done".

Goodreads policy, however, is to add the title as it appears on the cover page. That means that if both titles are different, the cover title takes precedence. If the title page shows a subtitle and the cover doesn't, policy is not to add the subtitle. I try to find this rule in the Manual. Could you help ? If the rule is such, it is also in contradiction with the rules indicated by Rivka that Goodreads recognises national standards. It is then to Goodreads staff to clarify what is the most important of those two rules.

Anyway, titles written in French like this "Le Postmodernisme Ou La Logique Culturelle Du Capitalisme Tardif" (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...) will be perceived as uncorrect by any educated French reader. There is absolutely no reason to have capital on a conjonction or on one article other than the first one. This is mainly those kind of mistakes that I think should be corrected in Goodreads and they too numerous.

Thank you for your attention and for the remark on the broken links. I have now edited them.



message 4: by lethe (last edited Sep 20, 2019 08:25AM) (new)

lethe | 13747 comments André wrote: "I try to find this rule in the Manual. Could you help ? If the rule is such, it is also in contradiction with the rules indicated by Rivka that Goodreads recognises national standards. It is then to Goodreads staff to clarify what is the most important of those two rules."

Here it is: https://help.goodreads.com/s/article/...

Quote:
The title should match the title shown on the cover of the book, if that information is available. If a title includes accented characters, apostrophes, quotation marks, or punctuation, include these in the title. Do not remove definite or indefinite articles such as "the" from the beginning of titles; this is handled by the sort title, which is a different field (see below). Double-check the spelling!

The title should be capitalized according to standard title capitalization for the language of the edition. Preferred title capitalization in English is the use of capital letters for the principal words. Note that many titles appear to be in all uppercase or lowercase letters on the cover but are not otherwise capitalized this way, and that therefore the cover is used for the words of the title but not necessarily the capitalization.
Adhering to national capitalization rules has nothing to do with which source to use for the title. On Goodreads, it was decided to use the cover instead of the title page.

André wrote: "In French, "toutefois" means "however" and "peuvent être faites" means "may be done" and not "should be done"."

Yes, sorry for using shorthand there. I wrote it correctly in the other thread:
"Modifications in capitalization may be made, subject to the use* of the language of the title page." I.e., according to the rules of the language used on the title page.
[*Google Translate said 'use', but I feel 'usage' may be better translated with 'usage' or 'custom'.] (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...)
I corrected the "Postmodernisme" title (not sure if La or Logique should also be capitalized).


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