Underline Foreignisms

Any foreign expression that has not been fully assimilated into English should be italicized:

(French: "unwanted, in the way") (Italian: "life that is sweet, easy, enjoyable") (German: "malicious joy at the misfortunes of others")

Because English has always been quick to borrow words from other languages and equally quick to anglicize their pronunciation, it is often difficult to tell whether an imported word is still considered foreign and should be underlined.

de trop dolce vita Schadenfreude

Few of us think of delicatessen, say, as a "German" word or perfume as a "French" one, and in normal use these would never be italicized. (They are in the preceding sentence because they are citation terms, not because they are foreign.) But in between such fully accepted terms and plainly alien ones like Schadenfreude, many words that have become recently popular in English still have a faintly foreign air: boutique, for instance, or detente. Editors differ on how to treat such terms. If they are not listed in a standard dictionary, it is never wrong to underline them.

t> Underline Citation Terms

Words used in self-reference are called citation terms and are usually underlined (less commonly, placed in quotes). In the following pair of sentences, the infinitive to run is a citation term in the first, but in the second it has its conventional sense:

To run is an infinitive. He wanted to run.

Sometimes citation terms are placed in quotes, but then should not also be underlined. is, however, is the better choice.

t> Underline for Emphasis

In manuscripts, underlining stands for italics (as used in the examples that follow). Underlining (italics) has several purposes. When emphatic underlining is well done, it has the effect not only of drawing attention to key words, but also of suggesting an actual voice talking to us:

The cause of pornography is not the same as the cause of free speech. There is a difference. Barbara Tuchman

The church was, in sum, more than the patron of medieval culture; it medieval Culture. Morris Bishop

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Project Management Made Easy

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