Lost in Translation

Dear Elsie

For many years, when cataloging a book that contains both the original text and a translation (often children's nonfiction in English and Spanish), I've followed the AACR2 rule and included both languages in the uniform title, language of translation first (e.g., 240 10 $a Are you my mother? $l Spanish & English). I've noticed some new records that don't follow that pattern. There's no field 240 at all (for works of single personal authorship), and there are author-uniform title added entries for both the original language and the translation. Is this some new RDA thing?

Signed, Mystified in Mattoon


Dear Mystified, 

It is indeed an RDA thing, and its origin lies in RDA's use of the FRBR entities manifestation and expression.

The RDA instruction applying to situations like this is 6.27.3, Authorized Access Point Representing an Expression:

Construct an access point representing a particular expression of a work or a part or parts of a work by combining (in this order):

a) the authorized access point representing the work … or the part of parts of a work …

b) one or more terms from the following list…

iii) the language of the expression …

Several examples, including some for translations, follow this instruction. There is also a corresponding LC-PCC PS (Library of Congress-Program for Cooperative Cataloging Policy Statement; LC issues these for some RDA instructions as they used to issue LC Rule Interpretations for AACR2 rules), with a passage that addresses our situation more specifically: “When the original expression and one translation are in a compilation, give an analytical authorized access point for each expression. If a compilation contains the original expression and more than one translation, give analytical authorized access points for the original expression and at least one translation.”

Those analytical authorized access points are the author-title added entries you've noticed.

Lost in Translation

To illustrate what we're talking about, let's look at the Library of Congress RDA record for Dump trucks = Los camiones de volteo, by Dan Osier, a children's nonfiction book in Spanish and English (LCCN 2013022465, ISBN 9781477732922). In MARC format, the authorized access point (100) and title and statement of responsibility (245) are:

100 1_ |a Osier, Dan, |e author.

245 10 |a Dump trucks = |b Los camiones de volteo / |c by Dan Osier ; translated by Eida de la Vega.

As you've noticed in other RDA records of this type, there's no 240, but further down in the record we find:

700 12 |a Osier, Dan. |t Dump trucks.

700 12 |a Osier, Dan. |t Dump trucks. |l Spanish.

The second indicator 2 in each of these access points identifies them as analytic.

At this point it might be well to review what an analytical access point is. The RDA glossary does not give this exact term, but defines Analytical Description as: “A description that describes a part of a larger resource (e.g., a single volume of a three-volume biography, a single map forming part of a map series).” So an analytical access point is an access point for a part of the resource represented by the bibliographic record. In this case, the resource contains the text in the original language (represented by the first 700) and the text in Spanish translation (represented by the second 700).

Manifestation and Expression

Why not just continue to use one uniform title naming both languages, as we did with AACR2? This is where those FBRB concepts I mentioned at the beginning come in. The resource we're cataloging is a manifestation(the physical embodiment of an expression of a work, as RDA defines the term). But this particular manifestation embodies not one, but two expressions (the “intellectual or artistic realization of a work in the form of alpha-numeric … notation”). (Remember that FRBR and RDA consider texts in the original language and a translation to be two different expressions.) To construct a single uniform title designating both would be to mash two different entities into a single access point, which we avoided long before RDA (that's why, for example, when cataloging a work of multiple authorship we construct a different access point for each author, rather than one access point naming them all). So conceptually, for situations like this, just remember that:

  • the bibliographic record represents the manifestation;
  • one of the analytic access points represents the expression of the work in English; and
  • one of the analytic access points represents the expression of the work in Spanish.

This illustrates why it is a good idea to learn the basic FRBR concepts as part of learning RDA. We will all get more comfortable with the concepts and how they are applied in the RDA instructions as we continue using them.

Meanwhile, at this writing it is officially spring (soon to be summer). It really came after all! Hope you are enjoying it.

Bibliographically yours, Elsie

Originally published June 2014 in the ILA Reporter

iREAD Summer Reading Programs

Since 1981, iREAD provides high quality, low-cost resources and products that enable local library staff to motivate children, young adults, and adults to read.

Visit the iREAD website »