Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: sic.

sic. Part A: Generally. “Sic” (= thus, so), invariably bracketed and preferably set in italics, indicates that a preceding word or phrase in a quoted passage is reproduced as it appeared in the original document. “Sic” at its best is intended to aid readers, who might be confused about whether the quoter or the quoted writer is responsible for the spelling or grammatical anomaly. This interpolation has been much on the rise: in published writings, its use has skyrocketed since the mid-20th century. Part B: Benighted Uses. Some writers use “sic” meanly — with a false sense of superiority. Its use may frequently reveal more about the quoter than about the writer being quoted. For example, a recent book review of an English book contained a “sic” in its first sentence after the verb “analyse,” which was so spelled on the book’s dust jacket. In American English, of course, the preferred spelling is “analyze”; in British English, however, the spelling “analyse” is not uncommon and certainly does not deserve a “sic.” In fact, all the quoter (or overzealous editor) demonstrated was an ignorance of British usage. Finally, “sic” is easily overused when quoting from a source that uses many archaic forms. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Orthography, in the true sense of the word, is so absolutely necessary for a man of letters, or a gentleman, that one false spelling may fix ridicule upon him for the rest of his life; and I know a man of quality, who never recovered the ridicule of having spelled ‘wholesome’ without the w.” Lord Chesterfield, Letters to His Son (November 19, 1750; no. 124), in Classics in Composition 95, 102 (Donald E. Hayden ed., 1969).

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