Posted by: episystechpubs | September 1, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Sic, sic ’em, and sick

Dear Editrix,

When you quote something with a misspelling, do you put a [sic] next to it?

Inquiring from El Cajon

Dear Inquiring,

What a good question! The short answer is “yes, you should put a [sic] next to a misspelled word in a quotation.” Here at work, we don’t often quote other people or references for our technical documentation, so we don’t have the opportunity to use this word often. In the academic world, I would expect it to come up more often, when people are writing papers and making references to other books or articles.

Below, I’ve included more detail on this topic from The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, including a little quiz! Scroll down to see the answers.

Sincerely,

Editrix

Using [sic] Properly

Sic is a Latin term meaning “thus.” It is used to indicate that something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was in the original. Sic is usually italicized and always surrounded by brackets to indicate that it was not part of the original. Place [sic] right after the error.

Example: She wrote, “They made there [sic] beds.”

Note: The correct sentence should have been, “They made their beds.”

Why use [sic] at all? Why not just make the correction? If you are quoting material, it is generally expected that you will transcribe it exactly as it appeared in the original.

The word sic is also a command to attack (used especially in commanding a dog). The past tense is either sicced or sicked.

Examples:
Sic ‘em, Fido. Fido sicced (or sicked) the burglar.

Note: With this meaning, the word is not italicized or enclosed in brackets.

Be careful, however, because the word sick, meaning ill, is also a homonym of sic.

Example:
Ananda felt sick with the flu yesterday.

Pop Quiz
Place [sic] where needed.

1. I can lend you no more then ten dollars.
2. Who’s turn is it to speak?
3. I don’t know witch way to turn.
4. How did the weather effect your vacation plans?
5. Don’t you think that every one should attend the meeting?

Pop Quiz Answers

1. I can lend you no more then [sic] ten dollars. (than)
2. Who’s [sic] turn is it to speak? (Whose)
3. I don’t know witch [sic] way to turn. (which)
4. How did the weather effect [sic] your vacation plans? (affect)
5. Don’t you think that every one [sic] should attend the meeting? (everyone)

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