[globaloutlookDH-l] When citing emails, do people silently correct typos?

Nishant Shah nishant.shah at inkubator.leuphana.de
Sat Feb 1 11:34:47 MST 2014

Hey Dan,
This is a great question, and one that a lot of us working with online 
transcripts and with non-standard Englishes constantly face.
With a collection I was editing, working with writers from Asia, Africa 
and Latin America, where the writers were not native speakers and also 
not professionally used to writing, we faced a similar dilemma which 
eventually, we resolved in the following ways:
1. Except for when the syntax was so irregular that the citation was 
unintelligible, we contacted the sources and checked if they want to 
re-write it, or if our corrections were still representing what they meant.
2. Like in oral ethnography projects, we retained the irregularities of 
'written speech', and we used that as a precedence for retaining these 
3. With different registers in the language, we retained them without 
even high-lighting or italicising or pointing out those irregularities, 
because that is a judgment call we did not want to make, and we also 
thought that the onus of bias was on the reader.
Hope this helps resolve some of your queries,
Warm regards
On 01-02-2014 19:21, Daniel O'Donnell wrote:
> I have a question for advice from this group that might have political 
> implications.
> In an article I'm about to submit, I cite a number of discussions on 
> this list and humanist about the use of language, especially English. 
> The authors are both native English speakers and non-native speakers 
> and, as is typical in emails, there are a number of small typos. 
> solecisms, and the like.
> Currently, I have a note at the first citation indicating that "as is 
> normal in as conversational a medium as email correspondence, the 
> quoted passages have small typographical errors and other solecisms. 
> These have not been corrected or otherwise noted." My reason for this 
> is that I don't want to put in a lot of sic or corrections in square 
> brackets. Although I'm a terrible typo offender myself, the case can 
> be more politicised it seems to me when dealing with non-native 
> speakers. I'm uncomfortable acting either as judge or, worse, in my 
> case, calling attention to "errors"--especially since I think they are 
> really more issues of register than actual errors.
> I could silently correct them, of course, as well, but I don't like 
> that either, in case what I think is an obvious correction turns out 
> to misrepresent something.
> What do other people think? I've seen /sic/ used before as a form of 
> ad hominem attack and so I generally really hate using it if I can 
> avoid it. But since it also seems nuts to pepper the correspondence 
> with square brackets (and since that could have the same effect as a 
> lot of sics), I don't want to do that either.
> Is there a better solution than simply flagging the register 
> difference, as I currently do?
> -- 
> ---
> Daniel Paul O'Donnell
> Professor of English
> University of Lethbridge
> Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
> Canada
> +1 403 393-2539
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*Dr. Nishant Shah * (Ph.D. Cultural Studies)
*International Tandem Partner *, Centre for Digital Cultures 
<http://www.leuphana.de/en/zentren/cdc.html> Lüneburg, Germany
*Director Research *, The Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore 
*Phone*: India: +91-974-007-4884; Germany: +49-176-841-660-87
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