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I finished writing my essay about Sam Selvons "The Lonely Londoners" which is written in creolized English. The use of creolized English comes with many grammatical as well as spelling errors. Now I am not sure whether to use "sic" after every error (that would be many, many sics) or just put a phrase at the beginning or the end of the essay, which tells exactly that. To me it feels wrong to use 2 sics in each quote on average...

I am writing in the MLA-Standard format using LaTeX.

I used the search function to find an answer, but I was not able to find an appropriate solution. Looking forward to reading your answers!

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Definitely - not just a phrase but at least a paragraph discussing the language, possibly detailing some characteristic points of it, early on.

Also note - they aren't necessarily errors. That's a dialect, and as long as the spelling and grammar is true to that dialect, it's not erroneous; it just isn't Standard English. Think of it as quotations in a foreign language. If you write a sentence in Latin you don't put [sic] after every single word simply because it's not correct English (but correct Latin). It's the same here, the partial overlap with Standard English notwithstanding.

Of course keep your own essay in proper Standard English (AmE, BrE or whatever is your proper variant). If you use expressions from the original outside quotes, but in their original spelling, make them stand out as such, e.g. by writing them in italics.

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  • Thank you! This really cleared up everything for me. As my essay is focusing on the language and how it improves the reading experience, I think I am good to go if I just quote with neither writing sic nor writing a paragraph about the language, because the whole essay is full of "why that language is used". So it should be clear to the reader. Thanks! :)
    – BrianBrain
    Sep 28 '14 at 11:32
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I would say that you add sic only if the reader can be confused wether he is seeing a typo in your text or in the source that you quote. If you quote texts whose orthography differs systematically or consistently from current standards, such as Victorian age or older texts, dialect or slang, you can expect your readers to know that their spelling will be different, and an extra marker will be unnecessary.

If you are writing for non expert readers, some introductory comments on how creole writers come to spell the way they do will help them gain the appropriate perspective.

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