Je ne sais quoi

Je ne sais quoi

Should you include foreign phrases and expressions in English papers?  Do they add a certain je ne sais quoi  to your writing? 

Of course, it is always your prerogative to choose the language and style of your paper.  But here's some food for thought.  


A changing readership

In the days of yore, it was common (if not compulsory) for people writing in English to casually toss a Latin, French, or German phrase at the reader.  Of course, in those days, the group of readers was also narrower.

Happily, readers in economics today are a wonderfully diverse group culturally and linguistically.  So if we're throwing in an a priori, is it also OK to throw in a先驗 or a पूर्वसिद्ध?


Expressing the same idea in English

It is often quite simple to replace a foreign phrase with an English one, especially in the Introduction or abstract where the terminology need not be too technical.  Here are examples:

à la: as in, like

inter alia: among other things

a priori: prior to, before 

ex post/ex ante: after x/before x

vis-à-vis: with regard to


Even if you decide that the idea is best expressed in the foreign language, you can always offer the reader a brief translation within the text using an em-dash (--) or a pair of commas. 








Image: PD-US

Getting useful feedback

Getting useful feedback

Messaging with structure

Messaging with structure