Students are often able to choose between different language versions of
the "same" source. This may particularly be the case for Finnish students
writing in English about topics concerning Finland, where sources may
exist as a Finnish original and an English translation. In such cases,
which language version should one use?
1. When the source text exists in both Finnish and English
For papers which are written in English about Finnish topics where
the same material exists in both Finnish (or Swedish) and an English
translation, the normal procedure would be to cite the English
version as the source. This would enable the entire paper (including
references) to be in English, and would make your paper more 'readable' or
accessible to readers who may not understand Finnish. It thus promotes the
citation principle of easy accessability to the scholarly material you
have used to research your paper.
However, in some cases the Finnish version might be used even where an
English version exists. This would typically be the case if something has
been omitted in the English version that you absolutely want to include,
or the English version conveys a different meaning from the Finnish.
Such a difference between two versions of the "same" source does not
necessarily imply that the English version (assuming this is the
translation of a Finnish original) is at fault; as any translator knows,
there are many reasons why different language versions might not 'read'
alike. However, if you have spotted a mis-translation, all the more reason
to use the original Finnish version (if you have determined that it is
reliable). In this case you would cite the Finnish version and use an Author Note to explain why you are not using the
Papers may also compare the Finnish and English versions of the
same text. In this case both versions would both be listed as sources, and
reference would be made to each in the normal manner. However, in such a
case the Works Cited entries may be different. The Finnish version would
always cite the name of the original Finnish author, but the translation
might cite the translator as the primary entry, if the paper had
compared differences in the translations as such. In this case the
'value' of the source would primarily be that of the translation, rather
than the original work (see Citing Translations:
Author or Translator? for more on this).
2. When the source text exists only in Finnish
The most straightforward way to cite Finnish sources is to use their
Finnish names without any explanations. However, to assist non-Finnish
readers, an English translation of the Finnish title may be provided. The
neatest way of doing this is to include an English translation in square
brackets [x] in the Works Cited listing.
If you refer in the text to a Finnish title which is not listed in the
Works Cited (if you simply referred to the work but did not use any
material from it), you can include the translation in the text in the same
manner as above, using square brackets [x]. To inform readers that the
translations in square brackets are by the author you may include an Author Note together with the first instance of
your translation(s), and also note this point within square brackets [x]
in the Works Cited entry (see Works Cited example above).
Vaijärvi, Kari. Apuraha avain [The Key to Getting a
Grant]. Turku: Cultura Oy, 1997. [Title translated by XX XXX].
Note above the inclusion at the end of the Works Cited listing in
brackets of the name of the person who translated the title (assuming that
there wasn't an English translation for the title to start with). Instead
of this option, one might also use an Author Note to explain that in the
Works Cited all translations into English of foreign-language titles had
been done by the author of the paper.
3. 'Official' vs. 'unofficial' translations
The problem of whether a translation is 'official' mainly concerns Acts of
Parliament and other legislative texts. A small number of Acts of
particular importance exist in English as official translations, i.e., the
translation has been endorsed by authorities. Many other Acts have been
translated into English by organisations or individuals who wish to
provide information on their content to non-Finnish readers. An unofficial
translation is not necessarily a poor one, but it is legally less binding
than one which has been endorsed officially.
If it is clear to you that the translation of a legislative text which
you have found is not official, it would make sense to mention this,
together with an indication of where you found it. If you are uncertain
about the authority of a translation, use an Author Note to say so.
If you find several English versions of the same text, you must consult
your own good sense (which includes a critical look at the sources where the
translations were found) or native speakers as to which one is the best.
If you think it useful or necessary, you may point out in your paper
(either directly in the text, if of relevance to the paper itself, or
otherwise in an Author Note) that several translations exist.
Thanks to Heli Mäntyranta for her input to this