My short story "The Maulana Azad Memorial Lamppost of Panipatnam" was recently accepted for publication and I recently got the copy edited manuscript to look over.
In my original manuscript, I had italicized India-related terms only when the characters of the story were self-consciously explaining them to non-Indian characters while leaving India-related terms unitalicized when two Indian characters talked with each other, or when Indian characters talked quickly without bothering to explain themselves.
But the publisher's style guide, understandably, doesn't have such an elaborate set of rules for when to italicize words. Their rule is that if a word is foreign, it should be italicized the first time it appears. Which is, admittedly, a much simpler standard to watch for.
But it sort of makes me curious: how do we know when a word counts as foreign and when it becomes English? Obviously we don't feel the need to point out that pork has French origins every time the term appears in print. And when characters are clumsy, no one calls them klutzes in case you don't know any Yiddish.
But when did a mosque become a mosque? And when will gurdwara become just plain old gurdwara?
How does an imported word get naturalized into English?
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