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Posted by Bob on May 11, 2000

In Reply to: (sic.) posted by ESC on May 11, 2000

: : What does it mean when (sic.) appears after certain words?

: When "sic" appears within a quotation in text, it means although the word or whatever is incorrect, it has been left uncorrected on purpose.

: I once thought it stood for "spelled incorrectly." And I also thought that it could be used as a proofreading mark to show that, for example, a name with a different spelling should be left as is. Turns out I was wrong on both counts:

: From "Le Mot Juste," edited by John Buchanon-Brown & others (Vintage Books, New York, 1980, 1981): "sic (Latin) (seek) lit: so, thus, as it was, in this way; inserted parenthetically into a text to indicate the occurrence of an anomaly or misspelling which has not been corrected for the purpose of quotation."

: And from The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, Norm Goldstein, editor (Perseus Books, Reading, Mass., 1998): (sic) Do not use (sic) unless it is in the matter being quoted. To show that an error, peculiar usage or spelling is in the original, use a note to editors at the top of the story, below the summary line but ahead of a byline."

: I can't think of any good examples. "He said, 'I am agin (sic) it.'"

The use of "sic" is often a sign, by a writer, to say "see how superior I am to this jerk I'm quoting. You and I, reader, know better, but he obviously doesn't." It's subtle enough that even though it's snotty, it's acceptable. I read somewhere (Will Strunk? E. B. White?) that one use of "sic" is ok, but repeated use in a quote is offensive. Once you've established the illiteracy of your quoted source, you don't have to rub it in.