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When I'm writing in English and want to refer to foreign company/organisaion names, should I translate or keep the original name, or use both? I can imagine a few possibilities, depending on factors such as whether the company/organisation is known world-wide or whether or not they have an official English name.

I think it's fairly straight forward with names such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines because that is an official English name, even though the Dutch acronym KLM is rarely spelled out.

What I find more problematic is names which are relatively unknown to the English-speaking community. E.g: Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (Netherlands Public Broadcasting). Should I use both like I just did, with the original first and the English in brackets, or vice versa, English first and original in brackets (probably also in italics?). Or should I just stick to the English? or the original? I am a bit confused here.

Is there an official rule, or a style guide, for this in English writing?

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Company names tend to not be translated.

But as discussed here, sometimes a translation is required.

(Taken from link above)

Depending on the situation, it might be appropriate to add a translation, in italics, between square brackets, immediately following the company name. Especially if the company or agency name is an acronym.

Example: when translating from Italian to English, it might be really useful for the reader to know that "FFSS" means [Ferrovie dello Stato - Italian State Railways].

But in general, translating company names might lead to strange outcomes: FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) would translate as "Italian Automobile Factory, Turin - IAFT"

You need to make your own judgment as to whether a translation of the company name would be expected or would help to clarify the translation as a whole.

  • Also Volksvagon that reads foxvagon and not volksvagon – Maulik V Feb 11 '14 at 17:25
  • @Zzyrk Thanks. That is also what I'm leaning towards now after some more consideration. Although in the case of FIAT, I wouldn't translate the name at all, partly becausethe acronym is well known and partly because I would write something like: "the Italian Automobile company FIAT", and thereby avoiding the need for a proper translation. Perhaps if it's really necessary, the full wording of the acronym and its translation could be placed in a footnote. – Freja Feb 12 '14 at 6:55

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