Publishing in a Foreign Language
In a previous post I addressed the importance of publishing and referred to the "publish or perish" issue with regard to the "where to publish". But this is not the end of the publishing discussion. In this blog post I am going to address the question of the language of publication, and more precisely - publishing in foreign language.
As you might have noticed, especially if you follow our social media, podcast or YouTube channel, neither Danni nor I are native English speakers. Danni's first language is Dutch, and mine is Hebrew. We are both doing our PhDs in Israel and do most of our publications, interviews and lectures in English. So we definitely relate to this question very easily.
How to choose the language of publication
Choosing the language of publication is a very important question. Many choose to publish in English nowadays and for good reasons - it is a very international language and it allows you to increase your exposure, reach a larger audience, and gain international recognition. Even this blog post is written in English (as well as our podcast and YouTube channel).
However, this is of course not the only option.
There are very important reasons to publish in your own local language. For example if your writing is focused on local developments or interests, or you are aiming your writing to the local academic community, to local politicians or other stakeholders, it makes more sense to write in the local language as most people find it easier to read in their mother tongue.
Another important reason to use the local and even indigenous language is to maintain, preserve and develop that language. Our friend Laura has recently interviewed Dr. Lindsay Morcom on her blog "Earth Ideas". Dr. Morcom is a linguist and researcher of aboriginal languages and teaching. Using a language is of course a major element in preserving it, and academic writing is not different in that sense.
Writing in your own language is usually also easier, faster and more intuitive because it is usually the language you think in. But it also comes with a price: it will limit your potential audience. Some languages are more international than others - Spanish, French and of course English are among those. Publishing in such international languages will enable you to reach larger academic communities outside of your own local one.
This will also increase your chances to interact with other researchers outside of your country or region. Writing in an international language you make you writing more accessible even through google search for example, and sometimes will lead to more collaborations and perhaps even invitations to present your writing and research abroad.
Direct writing (from the outset) vs. Translation
An important question regards writing directly in a foreign language vs. writing it in your native language and then translate it to the foreign language. Naturally, writing in a foreign language does not come easily, especially when you start. However, if you plan on publishing in a foreign language, it is much better to practice writing in it directly as often as you can and try to avoid translating it. A language has a rhythm, it has idioms and style that might not get translated well.
So if you plan on doing most or even a significant amount of your writing in a specific foreign language, invest in it and improve your skills and level of proficiency. Perhaps you will never get to a full professional proficiency, but even reaching working proficiency will get you very far in your writing.
Which leads me to the last point - editing.
Never give up or neglect on adequate editing of your writing. In fact, this advice is relevant even when you write and publish in your own native language. Editing is a profession of its own, and no matter how good you think you are, and how well you write and express yourself, it is highly recommended to have your writing examined by a professional editor.
Just one word of caution, the language editor might not always be from your field of expertise. Make sure to go over the editor's revisions and verify that the editing hasn't tempered with your thesis or ideas. Editing is usually a ping-pong process and almost never being done in one smooth strike.
Do you have more tips about publications in foreign languages? Contact us through the comment or via social media @What2DoWithTHAT