the meaning of REDACTED

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Fri Sep 14 02:31:13 UTC 2007

>We all know that Wikipedia is not authoritative in the way that a dictionary
>or real encyclopedia is. However, it generally gives a pretty good snapshot of
>how words are generally construed, and a quick look at Google confirms that
>REDACTION and REDACTED are rarely if ever used to mean 'edited by
>adding substa
>ntial material'. All of the people who advertise penis augmentation are
>promising the addition of substantial material. If anyone can find a
>penis-enchancement ad that offers "redaction" I will be very surprised indeed.

It's true that "redaction" is usually a euphemism for "censoring".
Nonetheless, it has, as an available meaning (and the first meaning I
learned), "editing" in pretty much all its senses having to do with
actually altering text -- OED: "The action or process of preparing
for publication; reduction to literary form; revision,
rearrangement." That's the "fuller sense" and it is used -- though
not a whole lot, because "editing" is available as a word and
"redaction" is used so much to mean censorship. The original joke was
on that possible meaning; of course the usual meaning has to do with
deletion and obliteration, but it's not the only meaning legitimately
available. And, yes, I kinda doubt that the ads were actually
offering redaction...

But re: editing:

>For that matter,
>even the word EDITED normally implies reduction rather than augmentation,
>unless the context says otherwise.

Generally documents need stuff cut out more than they need stuff
added, so editing tends to be thought of as cutting down; also,
editors aren't necessarily always enfranchised to add much new
material. But the truth is that editors do much more rearranging,
rewriting, rephrasing, etc., than outright cutting. So there's the
common usage by people who have a sort of fuzzy idea of what editing
involves, and there's the usage that reflects the actual professional
activity. Nonetheless, it's true that it's uncommon for an edited
document to be notably longer than the original. A little longer,
sometimes, due to rephrasing, but not much... (Unless the editing is
developmental editing, that is.)

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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