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Please assume I have a direct quote that contains: "found in the neighborhood". I wish to use this as a direct quote in my paper.

My spelling checker flagged on "neighbourhood" since I am using Canadian English. If it was part of the citation I would use this answer. To avoid references to other answers, please assume that I have the best reasons possible to use Canadian English in my paper. If I change the quote to "found in the neighbourhood" did I translate this answer? I ask since APA states that translation is considered a paraphrase and has rules to treat it differently.

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    Generally, if you are using a direct quote, you should not change the content at all, except to add "[sic]" to mark that you are transcribing something exactly as it was found in the source text.
    – isaacg
    Jun 29, 2023 at 21:48
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    I frequently write papers in (U.S.) English, finding myself needing to cite long passages from others' papers in (U.K.) English. I don't change the spelling. I don't bother with 'sic'. However, in MS Word, I select the paragraph being quoted and tell the spellchecker that the language is English(U.K.) (or occasionally German or Spanish), which stops the spellchecker from flagging them. Jun 30, 2023 at 13:07
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    Generally don't take spellcheckers' suggestions as anything more than suggestions. They can be useful for avoiding mistakes that really are just typing mistakes or when you had a misconception about a word's spelling, but that doesn't mean everything flagged by a spellchecker is automatically a problem that should be addressed. It can absolutely be appropriate to write things that don't conform to existing spelling rules, like when you're introducing entirely new terminology. This should be the exception, not the rule, but it does happen. Jun 30, 2023 at 14:58
  • I halve a spell check her, It came with my pee cee. It plane lee marques fore my revue, miss steaks eye can knot sea. Butt now bee cause my spelling, Is checked with such grate flare, There are know faults with in my cite, Of nun eye am a wear. Jul 1, 2023 at 20:15

2 Answers 2

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Firstly, it is far from clear that choosing to use Canadian English in your paper actually commits you to changing non-Canadian spellings in quotations to Canadian spellings. A spell checker merely provides suggestions for you to consider. The idea that because a spell-checker highlighted the word it needs to be changed is false. The rest of the answer addresses the case where you have some other compelling reason to change spellings in quotations beyond the fact that it was suggested to you by a spell-checker.

The situation seems largely analogous to what you would do if the original quotation were, say, "foun in the neighborhood". You would presumably quote that as "foun[d] in the neighborhood", and no sane person would think of this as being a translation. Similarly, what you are in effect saying is that the spelling "neighborhood" is incorrect for the purposes of your paper. So the solution "found in the neighbo[u]rhood" seems to be the appropriate one if you insist on changing the spelling.

The question of why translations are handled differently than direct quotations is considered here:

You may wonder why your translation is considered a paraphrase rather than a direct quotation. That’s because translation is both an art and a science—languages do not have perfect correspondences where every word and phrase matches up with a foreign equivalent, though of course some cases come closer than others. Even in the example passage above I considered how to translate “Les femmes dans des activités masculines”—taken word for word I might have written “Women in masculine activities,” but I thought “Women working in masculine fields” better conveyed the actual meaning, which relates to women working in male-dominated occupations.

Clearly this reasoning does not apply to trivial changes in spelling. Nonetheless, you should make it clear to the reader that you have in fact changed the spelling of the original quote.

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    If you're going to change the quote, this is the right way to do it. But I imagine the spellchecker will now start complaining that "neighbo" and "rhood" aren't words, which perhaps makes it clear just how silly changing the quote actually is. Jun 30, 2023 at 13:41
  • Or how one should not be slave to a spellchecker.
    – Alan
    Jun 30, 2023 at 20:08
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    "However, it's far from clear that choosing to use Canadian English in your paper actually commits you to changing non-Canadian spellings in quotations to Canadian spellings." <-- this
    – MEMark
    Jul 1, 2023 at 7:20
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Isaacg in the comments made an astute observation that I want to repeat here since it's an equally valid answer and comments may be deleted at any time:

Generally, if you are using a direct quote, you should not change the content at all, except to add "[sic]" to mark that you are transcribing something exactly as it was found in the source text.

Put differently: what you can do is write "found in the neighborhood [sic]", with [sic] being the accepted standard in academical quotations to indicate that you are using this quote verbatim, including any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or regional dialect idiosyncracies from the original author's message.

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    I don't think this is needed for human readers, they're aware of these common variations. So unless it also appeases the spell checker, it seems worthless.
    – Barmar
    Jun 30, 2023 at 14:41
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    I think adding [sic] in this particular situation would be arrogant and disrespectful, since the quoted author did not make a mistake, they just used a different (but equally valid) spelling standard. Jun 30, 2023 at 15:44
  • @Barmar the spell checker doesn't need to be appeased at all (most of them do have some form of "Ignore" burton, though), and the [sic] is useful to ensure that some other human (e.g. an editor) doesn't try to appease the spellchecker and change the spelling.
    – Peteris
    Jun 30, 2023 at 16:11
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    The only reason the question even came up is because the spell checker complained. And I think a human editor would understand that we don't need [sic] here.
    – Barmar
    Jun 30, 2023 at 16:17

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