Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Whoo'se

The world of the blog seems to attract people who write well. My blog is surrounded by people who write well, that is they can express themselves well in good written English. Let me tell you, it has made me pull up my socks, even though it may take me longer to write something than in the early years of my blog. I focus much more on sentence construction now. What might be correct and clear, can also be ugly, and rearranged to read much more nicely. Yes, of course I get things wrong at times and I get great pleasure at wonderful blog writers occasionally missing a typo in their own writing.

I have used the word sic in posts. It is a useful tool when writing, but I have never used it inside quotation marks.

I think I may have used who's instead of whose once or more when writing, even though I know the difference.

A mother is grieving for her lost son and her husband was killed in a car accident not so long ago. I find it patronising and just plain nasty on the part of the writer of this piece to insert sic inside a quotation written by the mother's sister.

Ellen Lutton, or your sub editor (do they still have sub editors?), you may very well always get who's and whose correct, but please don't patronise the grieving who's writing skills may not be as quite as good as your own. In fact, how dare you!

A Facebook page that Daniel McNamara’s mother had set up in his memory after he died now includes Michael’s name as well.
“It was a long and frantic night searching for Michael since about 6pm last night and that bright little boy, who's (sic) smile lit up the world around us, is now no longer on this Earth,” Michael’s aunt wrote on his Facebook memorial page.

28 comments:

  1. Hear, hear! Good grammar is valuable, but to insist on it is rude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HH, I like people to try to write well, but if their education was lacking, then I won't pillory them for their errors.

      Delete
  2. The insertion of 'sic' was probably unnecessary anyway given that the item concludes with the words 'Michael's aunt wrote...'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite unnecessary Victor.

      Delete
  3. Do you think it is possible that "sic" was in fact an instruction to the subeditor not to correct it rather than something intended to run in the story?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marcellous, it is a possibility but really, I don't think subs are used much anymore.

      Delete
  4. The aim of good grammar and good spelling is to improve communications between the writer and reader.

    Sic means "I, the writer, know there is a mistake in the text and I don't want you to think I didn't notice it". So you are soooo right. Apart from being patronising, how does that improve communication?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hels, that is a long explanation for what can be easily translated, but it is an excellent explanation.

      Delete
  5. Won big fat rarszbury to ellin

    ReplyDelete
  6. "...the grieving who's writing skills..."
    tut tut Andrew, that should be whose.
    Who's is an abbreviation of who is.
    I've never seen the importance of (sic).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bingo, I knew someone would pick that up and make a comment.

      Delete
  7. Yes Andrew I agree with you and
    ditto what Fruitcake said.
    ellin should have just corrected it - not like it's a legal document or anything.
    Just the fact that the media go near griefstricken people offends me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann, would correcting it be seen as being patronising? Not sure. Media harassment of grieving people is appalling, and we know which media empire specialised in it.

      Delete
  8. I agree with you and all your commenters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, I nearly always agree with my commenters. They are terribly clever.

      Delete
  9. Ditto here. Interesting, that you read the Brisbane Times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, I have been known to look at it for something specific, but I think it might have been linked to The Age.

      Delete
  10. I've never used (sic) and I never will Andrew..I'm definitely not a punctuation snob as you might have gathered, am a big fan of ......! and (?) and even .....and, so shoot me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, I think both of your punctuation marks are very useful, especially when repeated!!!

      Delete
  11. Ohhhh..... I think that sic is often used to patronise the original writer rather than inform the current reader and have never, ever used it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it should be used only with great care Kath. I think I have only used it on my words.

      Delete
  12. I'm clearly a nastier person than Kath - I've used it when the original writer is 'worthy' of being patronised (eg smug, pretentious etc) ...

    But to use it in such a context as you found is appalling - even insensitive little ol' me would give a grieving person some latitude.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Red, that is fair use.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the Fairfax press are the last ones to be highlighting grammatical errors of others. Some of the grammar that they employ on their websites leaves much to be desired, especially since the last round of redundancies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew, the quality of writing is only going to get worse, as less people do more at a faster pace. The Guardian Australia will be an interesting development to watch. While it may have suffered badly from typos in the past, as per Media Watch, there is no doubting the quality of the writing.

      Delete
  15. Hi Andrew

    Oh god, it falls to yours pedantry - sorry. It's parentheses or round brackets rather than quotation marks that are used to signify (sic). I agree that it was repugnant to use the device in the context above but I don't see any reason to be squeamish about its use in general reporting or commentary. If you're quoting written text containing an unequivocal grammatical error and you're also someone with an interest in maintaining the integrity of the language, then I don't see a problem with politely identifying an embedded error with this elegant device.

    xxx

    Pants

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pants, best left to the professionals, I think. I can't recall you using it, but I expect you have, and done so correctly.

      Delete