An Internet Anomoly

This is why I love the internet.

Something I have had in the back of my head for a long time, but always forgot to do, was to look up the origin of [sic]. That is, the editorial comment you see used in writing when the author is quoting someone who has mispelled a word or not used proper grammar.

For example, if I was quoting George W. Bush on this web site, I would say:

“This has been tough weeks in that country[sic].”

-George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2004

The [sic] implies that it was the person quoted that made the grammatical mistake, not me. Consider it a grammatical passing of the buck.

Today I finally remembered to look up [sic] and see if I could find out what its origins were. I searched Google for “what does sic mean?”, and the first result I found was quite a suprise. The page I was lead to told me that SIC stands for “Standard Industrial Classification”, and relates to barcode technology.

However, if you go on to read the comments from other people that follow, you find a rare gem of internet culture, where people have all found each other under the wrong pretenses (searching for the meaning of [sic], not SIC), and have established a dialogue that spans a couple of years. There are some rude comments, but it’s pretty interesting to follow along and see what happens.

It is also impressive that the owners of the site have realized what they have inadvertently created, and have decided to let this go on for so long.

About Will Chatham

Will Chatham is a Cyber Security Analyst, Ethical Hacker, and Penetration Tester at a federal data center in Asheville, NC. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. His varied background, from developer to search engine optimizer to security professional, has helped him build a wide range of skills that help those with whom he works and teaches.
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2 Comments

  1. Did you ever find out what it really means? I always thought [sic] was an acronym for Spelling In Context – in other words, “passing the buck” on the error back to the author – saying in effect,I realize this is misspelled but I am quoting it and therefore must leave it in its orginal context, as I found it. Just because I’ve always thought this doesn’tmake it so!

  2. The best I could tell is that it is an abbreviation for a latin term. People have ‘americanized’ it to stand for “spoken in context”.

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