Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cite & Site



This headline appeared in my local paper today (Traverse City Record-Eagle):

Jeter to retire after 2014
Yankees’ shortstop sites injuries as reason

The problem is the choice of the word “sites.” A site is a place, location, or position. There might be an accident at a building site. The site of the 2014 Winter Olympics is Sochi. You are reading this article on a website.

There used to be a verb form that meant “to place in a physical location,” but the last example given in the Oxford English Dictionary appeared in the London Times in June of 1955. It reported on “New proposals for siting Rodin's sculptured group of the Burghers of Calais.” Obviously, it doesn’t fit in Jeter’s case.

To cite is to bring something forward as proof, example, or explanation. Mr. Jeter was citing his injuries as the reason for his impending retirement. In the paragraph above, I cited the Oxford English Dictionary as an authority. Most news organizations use style books that allow reporters to cite sources in a uniform and consistent way.

The etymology of both words will serve to distinguish them. Site comes from the Latin situs—place or position. Cite comes from the Latin verb citare—to move, excite, or bring to the forefront.

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