Touch Me I’m [Sic]

bad-grammar-makes-me-sic-detail-onehorseshy-t1We’ve all seen it.  It pops up in quotes and excerpts with regularity.  It’s pithy and powerful.  It’s [sic].  Those three simple letters, usually in brackets and italicized, indicate that a grammatical or spelling error or an odd choice of words appeared in the original text from which the current author is quoting.

And yet [sic] also indicates so much more than that.  It’s more than scrupulous documentation; it’s also a fascinating bit of buck-passing and an appeal to ridicule.  The author who breaks out [sic] wants to make it perfectly clear to his or her audience that he or she would never commit such a disqualifying error as misspell a word or use an inaccurate term.  Let there be no misunderstanding that could lead you, dear reader, to conclude that I made this embarrassing faux pas – trust me, it was the original author I’m quoting from.

[Sic] is also a useful weapon in wars of words.  Suppose that one of my bitter political or ideological opponents – say, someone who says dogs are better than cats – writes the following sentence somewhere: “Your never living a full life until you get a dog.”  Aha!  As I rip this fool’s argument to shreds in my own blog post or article, I make sure to include a line like the following: “Joe claims that ‘Your [sic] never living a full life until you get a dog.’ Such is the feeble gibberish we’ve come to expect from Joe and his ilk.”  By slapping [sic] into Joe’s quote, I say to my readers, through a wink and a nod, “Look.  This guy can’t even use proper grammar.  Do you really think that someone like that could possibly have any idea what they’re talking about when they discuss the big issues?”

I therefore put forth a challenge to the readers of The Fifth Floor.  I want to know if someone can find, on the internet, a case in which someone uses [sic] while quoting someone they demonstrably agree or sympathize with.  Annnnd [sic]…..GO!


One thought on “Touch Me I’m [Sic]

  1. Ha, I do not have a specific example (fail), but I’ve been noticing this a lot in the literature on gender lately! When debating issues of gender, many authors fall victim to using gendered, particular masculine, vocabulary. The use of [sic] after “he” or “actor” is used fairly liberally by others when critiquing one another’s work. Great observation!

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