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When you introduce yourself to an international audience and come from an non-US system, there always is an awkward moment of translating your job title into a form recognizable by the people you introduce yourself to. Here are the options I see:

  • using the title in your native language: completely honest, but probably not understandable by anyone who does not know the system
  • replacing it by the closest US title: complete localization, completely understandable, but some nuance in the function might be lost
  • translating in a literal way: something in-between

I'll give a specific example here (from my own system, the French one). CNRS is a research-performing organization, in which permanent researchers hold the title of chargé de recherche (junior staff) or directeur de recherche (senior staff). I usually see these titles translated into “research scientist” and “research director”, but I those terms aren’t really self-explanatory. In particular, I don't think it's clear from “research scientist” that this is a permanent position, because that term could also be used in other places for post-docs.

1 Answer 1

Personally I would translate the title as literally as possible or derive some half-translation i.e. chargé de recherche would become something like 'research manager' (one who is in charge of research) and directeur de recherche would becomre 'research director'.

This is more of an educated opinion though, as I believe that people benefit from learning small bits of other languages when applicable, and it helps to aid cultural understanding.

That's also often how borrowed words come about. Take the word 'halal' for example, it translates into English as 'lawful' or 'permissible', but it has been adopted by the English language because of its specific context when describing food. Titles are the same, they describe what people do, so they should remain as close to the original context as possible.