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I would like to update my bibtex file in a way that allows me to create multilingual bibliographies. Since I publish in English and Japanese, I will need this to work in a way that: In an English paper,

  • Japanese entries in the Bibliography will have the names of authors both in Kanji and in Romanization; titles will also have to be duplicated in this way, but in addition I sometimes also translate the title, so there might be three entries.
  • English citations will appear as usual.

In a Japanese paper

  • The Japanese entries will be just author, title etc in Kanji, without additions.
  • The English entries might have a translation of the title and give the Author in Japanese Katakana spelling.

To enable this, I thought of extending the bibtex entries in the following way

    Address = {京都},
        Adress_Romaji = {Kyōto}
    Editor = {柳田聖山},
        Editor_Romaji = {Yanagida Seizan}
    Publisher = {中文出版社},
    Publisher_Romaji = {Chūbun shuppansha},
    Title = {禪學叢書},
    Title_Romaji = {Zengaku sôsho},
        Title_en = {Collected Materials for the Study of Zen}
    Volumes = {10},
    Year = {1974-1977}}

I then hope that I will be able to pull the necessary pieces out of here and process them with biber and biblatex. How to go about that, I have no idea.

share|improve this question
The functionality to do this is in biber/biblatex in experimental form using a different data source format. Let me see if I can get something working with your example. – PLK Sep 12 '11 at 18:43
I have this working now - I'll add a real answer when biber 0.9.6/biblatex 1.7 is released soon as you'll need them. – PLK Sep 14 '11 at 18:25
This sounds great, I am really looking forward to it. Does it work with the data structure outlined above? Even if it can't be used today, I'd still be glad to know more, so that I can start working on the bibliography! – Chris Sep 19 '11 at 6:00

I've discussed this with the biblatex maintainer and we will probably aim for a style implementation of this with biblatex 3.x. With 1.7/0.9.6, the following will be possible. You will have to use the experimental biblatexml datasource format for such entries (you can still have all of your normal entries in bibtex format).

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<bib:entries xmlns:bib="http://biblatex-biber.sourceforge.net/biblatexml">
  <bib:entry id="yanagida_zengaku_sosho_1975" entrytype="collection">
      <bib:person gender="sm">柳田聖山</bib:person>
    <bib:editor mode="romanised">
          <bib:namepart initial="Y">Yanagida</bib:namepart>
    <bib:title mode="romanised">Chūbun shuppansha</bib:title>
    <bib:title mode="translated" xml:lang="en">Collected Materials for the Study of Zen</bib:title>
    <bib:location mode="romanised">Kyōto</bib:location>
    <bib:location mode="translated" xml:lang="en">Kyoto</bib:location>
    <bib:publisher mode="romanised">Chūbun shuppansha</bib:publisher>

There is no way to do this with bibtex format but this is no problem for biber - you can have many datasources of different formats. With the above example, you could choose to use the display format "romanised" and biber would construct the .bbl with only the romanised mode fields, for example. There will be no way to use mixed modes in the same entry however as this would need a radically enhanced .bbl format and massive internal biblatex changes which are planned for version 3.x

The above example uses the global displaymode setting (which will be in biblatex 1.7). You will also be able to set per-entry modes with an attribute on the entry, for example:

<bib:entry id="yanagida_zengaku_sosho_1975" entrytype="collection" mode="translated">

The default mode is "original" which matches fields with no mode specified too.

Edit on release of biber 0.9.6/biblatex 1.7: This is now implemented as mentioned. The default global setting is:


this biblatex macro is undocumented at the moment but you should be able to use it to change the global displaymode choice order. You can also set displaymode per-entry as shown above. Let me know on the biber SourceForge forum if you have problems.

share|improve this answer
The problem is, the biblatexml format isn't documented yet and probably isn't completely stable so you'll be partly testing it ... – PLK Sep 19 '11 at 18:47

I'm adding another answer as biblatex 3.0+biber 2.0 are now in experimental release and have a different solution to this. You can now make a test.bib file like this:

  LANGID = {japanese},
  EDITOR = {柳田聖山},
  EDITOR_romanised = {Yanagida, Seizan},
  TITLE = {禪學叢書},
  TITLE_romanised = {Chūbun shuppansha},
  TITLE_translated_english = {Collected Materials for the Study of Zen},
  LOCATION = {京都},
  LOCATION_romanised = {Kyōto},
  LOCATION_translated_english = {Kyoto},
  PUBLISHER = {中文出版社},
  PUBLISHER_romanised = {Chūbun shuppansha},
  DATE = {1974/1977}

with this document and XeLaTeX:

\setCJKmainfont{Hiragino Mincho Pro}




You will get:

enter image description here

Adding the new 3.0 biblatex option vform=romanised (either globally or to the options field of the .bib entry), you get:

enter image description here

More importantly, all biblatex internals and externals now understand these field variants and so you could unset vform and redefine, for example:

    test \ifuseeditor
    not test {\ifnameundef{editor}}

(notice the \printnames call). Now you get:

enter image description here

You can mix any variants within the same bibliography by altering your style to reference the variants without abusing the orig* fields. There is a lot more you can do with this, see the biblatex 3.0 documentation. biblatex 3.0 is in the "experimental" folder on SourceForge and you will need to be using biber 2.0.

share|improve this answer
This is very cool! So the idea is I could have location = {Munich}, location_ngerman = {München}, location_latin = {Monacum} (etc., etc.) and then output whichever form based on the appropriate vform option? (I had been meaning to make a feature request along these lines for some time now...) – jon Feb 18 '14 at 22:11
The extended .bib format is FIELD_FORM_LANG (where the divider is configurable, underscore by default). So you could do: location_translated_ngerman = {München} and then set vform=translated, vtranslang=ngerman to default to a specific form/lang. – PLK Feb 19 '14 at 12:43
Ah, OK. I look forward to having this functionality. – jon Feb 19 '14 at 15:38
The name order issue is really a style issue I think - entries should include a langid field and then the style should conditionalise the name format on the language. That is, parse the name normally as last,first but print them differently depending on the language of the entry? – PLK Apr 15 '14 at 8:59
You are right about the names - in fact in the new "multiscript" branch, the point of being able to specify a language as part of the field name is that you can then conditionalise on that language. That is, your style knows which language rules to use to render the name. The new biblatex/biber functionality simply provides the necessary information - the style has to use it ... I'd be glad to hear your requirements and experiences with the new experimental version - there is a "Multiscript testing for biblatex 3.0" enhancement on github you can use for this. – PLK Apr 15 '14 at 14:33

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