Friday, October 7, 2011

Licenc* + Licens* (for Licens* or Licenc*)

Once when I was little, I saw the expression "poetic license" and asked my mother what it meant. I think I thought it was some sort of literal license they gave to poets. Her answer, though somewhat vague, turned out to be much more intriguing. She said it meant that you could say whatever you wanted to say, however you wanted to say it. I was too young to know very much yet about democracy and the First Amendment, but as I got older, this concept blended nicely with another one I came to fully embrace: "freedom of speech." The summer before I began library school, I signed up for a seminar in censorship. Though they had to cancel it as only a few students had shown up, the dean treated us to a full three hours of thrilling talk about "banned books" and "intellectual freedom." If I hadn't been quite sure of my new choice of vocation before, that clinched it for me. In the Loudon Wainwright song "Jesse Don't Like It" (from the 1999 album Social Studies), he sings: "In the kindergarten, years ago, Jesse got rude / He took a red Crayola and he drew a nude / The teacher took a ruler to Jesse's behind / She beat his butt, but she ruled his mind..." I love Loudon's use of poetic license—the alliteration and assonance and internal ryhming, the repetition of words and homonyms. And, of course, I love his hilarious taking down of Jesse Helms, that one-time enemy of the arts and, specifically, the NEA. Today's typo garners 161 hits in OhioLINK, not all of which are actually typos. Americans spell license with an S, but the British, Canadian, and Australian spelling uses a C. If you do a combined search on both spellings, you will surely find some inconsistencies; however, you'll want to make sure to check the works themselves to determine any errors in transcription or instances where a "sic" or "i.e." is called for.

(Jesse Helms, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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