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Sic—generally inside square bracket
Bracket
Brackets are tall punctuation marks used in matched pairs within text, to set apart or interject other text. In the United States, "bracket" usually refers specifically to the "square" or "box" type.-List of types:...

s, [sic], and occasionally parentheses, (sic)—when added just after a quote or reprinted text, indicates the passage appears exactly as in the original source. The usual purpose is to inform readers that any errors or apparent errors in the copied material are not from transcription
Transcription error
A transcription error is a specific type of data entry error that is commonly made by human operators or by optical character recognition programs . Human transcription errors are commonly the result of typographical mistakes, putting fingers in the wrong place during touch typing is the easiest...

—that they are reproduced exactly from the original writer or printer. A bracketed sic may also be used as a form of ridicule or as a humorous comment, typically by drawing attention to the original writer's mistakes.

Though occasionally misidentified as an abbreviation, sic is an English-language adverb (also a noun and verb)This article italicizes sic only when mentioning the word as a word, and not when using the word as a noun that refers to an instance of a bracketed sic. As such, its italicization here is no indication of foreignness. that has its origins in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

.Some sources insist that sic is a Latin word rather than an English derivation of the Latin sīc (spelled with a long "i").

Etymology and usage history



The adverb
Adverb
An adverb is a part of speech that modifies verbs or any part of speech other than a noun . Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives , clauses, sentences, and other adverbs....

 sic—meaning "intentionally so written"—first appeared in English circa 1856. It is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 adverb sīc, which contains a long vowel and means "so", The word so is another English adverb derived from sīc, according to the Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. "thus", "as such" or "in such a manner". In English, sic is a homophone
Homophone
A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose and rose , or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too. Homophones that are spelled the same are also both homographs and homonyms...

 of sick ˈsɪk; its Latin ancestor is pronounced more like the English word seek ˈsiːk.

In one early instance, a letter written in July 1876 by Dr. Enoch Mellor to the editor of the Literary Churchman discussed "the cheap insinuation of ignorance which can lie in a bracketed sic."

According to the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, the verb form of sic, meaning "to mark with a sic", emerged in 1889, citing E. Belfort Bax work in The Ethics of Socialism as one of the early examples. That piece by Bax, "On Some Forms of Modern Cant," had actually appeared even earlier in Commonweal
Commonweal (UK)
Commonweal was a British socialist newspaper founded in 1885 by the newborn Socialist League. Its aims were to spread socialistic views and to win over new recruits....

, published in 1887.

Usage of sic greatly increased in the mid-twentieth century. For example, in state-court opinions prior to 1944, the Latin loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

 appeared a total of 1,239 times in the Westlaw
Westlaw
Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the United States and is a part of West. In addition, it provides proprietary database services...

 database; in those from 1945 to 1990, it appeared 69,168 times. The "benighted use" (see Form of ridicule) has been cited as a major factor for this increase.

The "immoderate" use of sics created some controversy, leading some editors, Simon Nowell-SmithSimon Harcourt Nowell-Smith was, according to an article in The Independent, a "great bibliophile and bibliographical scholar of the highest order." and Leon Edel
Leon Edel
Joseph Leon Edel was a North American literary critic and biographer. He was the elder brother of North American philosopher Abraham Edel....

, to speak out against it.

Conventional usage


Sic, in its bracketed form, is most often inserted into quoted or reprinted material in order to indicate accuracy in reproducing the preceding text despite appearances to the reader of an incorrect or unusual orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 (spelling
Spelling
Spelling is the writing of one or more words with letters and diacritics. In addition, the term often, but not always, means an accepted standard spelling or the process of naming the letters...

, punctuation
Punctuation
Punctuation marks are symbols that indicate the structure and organization of written language, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud.In written English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences...

, etc.), grammar, fact or logic. Several usage guides recommend that a bracketed sic be used primarily as an aid to the reader, and not as an indicator of disagreement with the source.

A sic may show that an uncommon or archaic
Archaism
In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately or as part of a specific jargon or formula...

 usage is reported faithfully, such as when quoting the U.S. Constitution: "The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their Speaker..." However, various writing guidebooks discourage its use with regard to dialect such as exemplified in American and British English spelling differences
American and British English spelling differences
One of the ways in which American English and British English differ is in spelling.-Historical origins:In the early 18th century, English spelling was not standardized. Differences became noticeable after the publishing of influential dictionaries...

. For instance, the appearance of a bracketed sic after the word analyse on a book cover led Bryan A. Garner
Bryan A. Garner
Bryan A. Garner is a U.S. lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher who has written several books about English usage and style, including Garner's Modern American Usage. He is the editor in chief of all current editions of Black's Law Dictionary...

 to comment, "... all the quoter (or overzealous editor) demonstrated was ignorance of British usage."

When no orthographic or grammatical irregularities are apparent, siccing may indicate a factual or logical error, which has been done, for example, with various notable Bushism
Bushism
Bushisms are unconventional words, phrases, pronunciations, malapropisms, and semantic or linguistic errors that have occurred in the public speaking of former President of the United States George W. Bush and, much less notably, of his father, George H. W. Bush. The term has become part of popular...

s—or slips of the tongue by former U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

.

Formatting


When placed within quoted material, square bracket
Bracket
Brackets are tall punctuation marks used in matched pairs within text, to set apart or interject other text. In the United States, "bracket" usually refers specifically to the "square" or "box" type.-List of types:...

s are almost invariably used: "[sic]". Alternatively, the sic can appear after the quote in parentheses (round brackets): "(sic)", especially when the error is obvious. Sometimes, the word sic appears italicized
Italic type
In typography, italic type is a cursive typeface based on a stylized form of calligraphic handwriting. Owing to the influence from calligraphy, such typefaces often slant slightly to the right. Different glyph shapes from roman type are also usually used—another influence from calligraphy...

 within the brackets: "[sic]", following the convention that italic type is used to indicate foreign words, though this has become rarer in recent times. While most style guidelines including The MLA
The MLA Style Manual
The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is the third edition of The MLA Style Manual, first published by the Modern Language Association of America in 1985...

do not require italicization, others do, such as the APA Style
APA style
American Psychological Association Style is a set of rules that authors use when submitting papers for publications in APA journals. The APA states that they were developed to assist reading comprehension in the social and behavioral sciences, for clarity of communication, and to "move the idea...

.'The APA Style allows the underlining of sic as an alternative when italic type is not available. Also, this may or may not reflect the latest edition of the APA Style.

Because sic is not an abbreviation, it is unnecessary to include a period inside the brackets after the word sic (see also improper abbreviation).

Correcting versus siccing


Various usage guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 16 editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing...

, recommend "quiet copyediting" (unless where inappropriate or uncertain) instead of inserting a bracketed sic, such as by substituting in brackets the correct word (if known) in place of the incorrect word (see also "backlash" in Form of ridicule).

Alternatively, when both the original and the suggested correction are desired (as they often are in palaeography
Palaeography
Palaeography, also spelt paleography is the study of ancient writing. Included in the discipline is the practice of deciphering, reading, and dating historical manuscripts, and the cultural context of writing, including the methods with which writing and books were produced, and the history of...

), one may insert inside brackets (after sic or without sic) the word recte, meaning "rightly" in Latin, followed by the correct word:
"An Iraqi battalion has consumed [sic, recte assumed] control of the former American military base, and our forces are now about 40 minutes outside the city."

According to the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music Style Sheet, there should be no punctuation before the corrected word when using recte. Sometimes only sic and the correction are in the bracket—[sic correct phrase] (i.e. recte is omitted).

Wordplay


Various wordplay
Wordplay
Wordplay is a musician/actor, of mixed British and Black African descent. Gaining worldwide exposure as an actor in 1998 through the Austrian Obscuro Gothic science fiction film "Dandy dust" directed by Hans Schierl...

s regarding the word sic are possible, arising either from its second polysemic meaning "to attack" or from its homophone
Homophone
A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose and rose , or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too. Homophones that are spelled the same are also both homographs and homonyms...

 sick. The latter case is exemplified by the humorous expression "Poor grammar makes me [sic]"—which has been featured on clothing and postcards.

Another example of this kind of pun can be found in the website Tv Tropes
TV Tropes
TV Tropes is a wiki which collects and expands on various conventions and devices found within creative works. Since its establishment in 2004, the site has gone from covering only television and film tropes to also covering those in a number of other media such as literature, comics, video-games,...

, which uses it as an article title as well as in a letter to the American Journal of Roentgenology criticizing their apparent overuse of the sic as a kind of "sick joke" against those from a foreign-language background that could lead readers to become "sick of your sic." (see linguistic discrimination below for more information on the AJR letter)

Form of ridicule


The use of sics can be seen as an appeal to ridicule
Appeal to ridicule
Appeal to ridicule, also called appeal to mockery, the Horse Laugh, or reductio ad ridiculum , is a logical fallacy which presents the opponent's argument in a way that appears ridiculous, often to the extent of creating a straw man of the actual argument, rather than addressing the argument itself...

, whether intentional or not, because it highlights perceived irregularities. The application of sics with the intent to disparage has been called the "benighted use" because it creates a "false sense of superiority" in its users. The following example from The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

demonstrates how the interpolation
Interpolation (manuscripts)
An interpolation, in relation to literature and especially ancient manuscripts, is an entry or passage in a text that was not written by the original author...

 of a sic can subtly discredit a quoted statement:
Warehouse has been around for 30 years and has 263 stores, suggesting a large fan base. The chain sums up its appeal thus: "styley [sic], confident, sexy, glamorous, edgy, clean and individual, with it's [sic] finger on the fashion pulse."


However, there have been cases of sic's usage being interpreted as ridicule that have resulted in backlash towards the publications in which they appear. Backlash can also happen as a result of a misplaced sic even when there was no intent to disparage. When the American Broadcasting Company
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 (ABC) failed to remove a sic after the typographical error it referred to was rectified in the quoted message, the television network received criticism for apparently suggesting that a belief in the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 is odd or erroneous. (By convention, when no orthographic
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 or grammatical errors are present, the use of a sic often indicates an error in logic
Fallacy
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor , or take advantage of social relationships between people...

).

Self-siccing


While chiefly used in text that is not one's own, occasionally, a sic is included by a writer after his or her own word(s) to note that the language has been chosen deliberately, especially where a reader may naturally doubt the writer's intentions. Bryan A. Garner
Bryan A. Garner
Bryan A. Garner is a U.S. lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher who has written several books about English usage and style, including Garner's Modern American Usage. He is the editor in chief of all current editions of Black's Law Dictionary...

 dubbed this kind of siccing as the "ironic use," while giving the following example from Fred Rodell
Fred Rodell
Fred Rodell was an American law professor most famous for his critiques of the U.S. legal profession. A professor at Yale Law School for more than forty years, Rodell was described in 1980 as the "bad boy of American legal academia" Fred Rodell (March 1, 1907 – June 4, 1980) was an American...

Nine Men:

Nonetheless, a writer's siccing of his or her own words may lead readers to confuse the source of the sic as being the book's editor and is often considered strange even when the sic's source is understood.

Linguistic discrimination


Siccing has been noted for its potential to encourage linguistic discrimination
Linguistic discrimination
Linguistic discrimination is discrimination based on native language, usually in the language policy especially in education of a state that has one or several linguistic minorities....

. One letter written to the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) has been cited in the journal's French counterpart, the Journal de Radiologie, regarding how potential prejudices among English-language journals may be causing a higher rejection rate of papers from francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 authors—a concern because English is the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 for medicine. In the letter, the AJR was criticized for its frequent insertion of sics when presenting letters written by French and Japanese authors even though its letter submission agreement allowed for (and implied) copy-editing. In response, Lee F. Rogers, the Editor in Chief
Editor in chief
An editor-in-chief is a publication's primary editor, having final responsibility for the operations and policies. Additionally, the editor-in-chief is held accountable for delegating tasks to staff members as well as keeping up with the time it takes them to complete their task...

 of AJR, apologized for the possible discriminatory interpretation and offered the following explanation for their decision to insert multiple sics rather than to copy-edit:

Improper acronyms


On occasion, sic has been misidentified as an acronym for "said in context," "spelled in context," "said in copy," "spelling is correct," "spelled incorrectly," and other phrases. These are all backronym
Backronym
A backronym or bacronym is a phrase constructed purposely, such that an acronym can be formed to a specific desired word. Backronyms may be invented with serious or humorous intent, or may be a type of false or folk etymology....

s from sic.

See also

  • List of Latin phrases
  • Sic et Non
    Sic et Non
    Sic et Non, an early scholastic text whose title translates from Medieval Latin as "Yes and No," was written by Pierre Abélard. In the work, Abélard juxtaposes apparently contradictory quotations from the Church Fathers on many of the traditional topics of Christian theology...

  • Sic semper tyrannis
    Sic semper tyrannis
    Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants." It is sometimes mistranslated as "down with the tyrant." The phrase is said to have originated with Marcus Junius Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar....

  • Sic transit gloria mundi
    Sic transit gloria mundi
    Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world". It has been interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting." It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis's 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" .The phrase was...

  • Stet
    Stet
    Stet is a Latin word used by proofreaders and editors to instruct the typesetter or writer to disregard a change the editor or proofreader had previously marked....