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E is for Errata – Latin for a little list of errors and corrections.


Let's face it - I'm throwing this one in mostly because I love the sound of it. Errata. Nice, right? If I ever have a daughter... (At least it's a name none of the other girls in her kindergarten will have!)


Errata are little printed pages publishers occasionally send round to libraries to stick into books, on those rare occasions when important, meaning-changing typos are discovered after a book goes to print. The errata sheet notes the critical typos, lists the page number for each, and then shows how the text was meant to read.


With the rise of digital everything, the errata sheet is becoming a thing of the past. But there are a number of other Latin phrases and abbreviations used in academic writing you may want to get under your belt if you haven't already!


e.g. The abbreviation of exempli gratia ("for example"). This is used to introduce one or more concrete illustrations of something that was just said. As in:


Of all the things that little kids love to do when their parents aren't watching (e.g., sit too close to the TV, eat cookies before dinner, jump on the bed), few are really dangerous.


Note that if you begin a list with "e.g.," you shouldn't end it with etc. (the abbreviation for et cetera, meaning "and so forth.").


Many people find the use of e.g. quite appealing, as a way to make their writing sound just a little more scholarly. But all too often it is confused with another Latin abbreviation: i.e., for id est, meaning "that is," or "that is to say." The phrase i.e. is used immediately before clarifying or restating something that was just said. For example:


I love those times when the baby is sleeping, her dad is at work, and my older daughter is out walking the dog (i.e., those rare and fleeting moments when the house is actually quiet).


N.B. stands for nota bene, which translates literally to "note well," but is used more or less as "Please note!" Generally you will only find N.B. in footnotes, and it tends to sound more pretentious than i.e. or e.g.; often it is used before acknowledging a contrasting argument, as in:


The evidence leads directly to the conclusion that immunizations do not cause autism in children. (N.B. the work of Jones, 2010, who argues that Thimerosal from vaccines may well have contributed to rising rates of autism spectral disorder).


sic. Latin for "thus" or "so." This one comes in handy when you are quoting directly from another source, but that source contains typos or other errors. For instance:


The main organizer of the prayer vigil for CEOs who have recently lost their jobs was quoted in the Times as saying: "We thought it would be very important to gather in pubic (sic) and show our support."


Of course, there the word "public" is missing one critical letter... Positioning (sic) right after the typo allows you to quote the text exactly as it was originally printed, without appearing to have yourself made an embarrassing mistake. It can also be used to make clear you don't agree with offensive or off-putting language, such as the use of the term "mankind" instead of the more inclusive "humankind."


qua. This one's a bit rarer, and a bit more pretentious, but one you may well come across it, especially in social science or literary theory courses. Literally, qua means "who" in Latin, but it's used just like "as." So, if a writer refers to "art qua art," she likely means she wants to discuss the aesthetic properties of art, as opposed to its commercial value.