Redactological Society

There’s another crackdown.  This time against language errors in the media and publishing industries. The government agency that oversees press and publications has declared that 2007 will be the Year for Quality Control in Publications.  Apparantly they are alarmed at the increasing number of "grammatical and logical errors" that abound because "people are using popular slang words more often and paying less attention to formal grammar."

But here’s my favorite quote:

"President of China Redactalogical Society Gui Xiaofeng said the problem is becoming serious, almost unbearable.  It’s in a worst period in history. "

Redactological Society? What in the world is a redactological society?  Is there really such a word? After I stopped laughing at the sentence, I surfed on over to an online dictionary.  Redactological is not listed, but redact is, and it means "to put into suitable literary form; to edit."  Or "to prepare for publication or presentation by correcting, revising, or adapting." So it follows that "redactology" would be the study or science of doing all that above.  Which sort of begs the question—shouldn’t they (members of the Redactological Society), of all people know that redactalogical is not a word, and therefore redact the name of their society to be something like Society of Editors? They obviously are in need of a redactor!

Sometimes I think we are in need of a redactological society for American English, and I’d love to serve as the president. As my teammates and colleagues will attest, I can sometimes be a bit of a language purist, …ok snob, and have been known to be sent into a blind rage during meetings when people, by my totally subjective standards misuse and abuse English.  One that is unbearable for me is the use if "issue" as a synonym for problem.  I’ve heard people start to say problem, then catch themselves, get a look of such guilt on their face you would think they’d uttered some dreadful racial slur, then say "issue."  The one that I find particularly annoying is "health issues."  What?  Is there something to discuss here?  Of course what’s being referred to is health problems, but we wouldn’t want "health" to feel bad now would we?  Or "my car has issues."  Shall we call a counselor?  No, the back wheel fell off the car, which is really a problem!  Another thing I find unbearable is the use of "onboard" as a verb, as in "we’ve got to onboard everyone to this new policy."  My colleagues’ use of this invariably leads me to bang my fists on the table and shout ON BOARD IS A PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE, NOT A VERB!!!!  Of course it has no effect, other than to set off a debate between the "language is dynamic and always changing" crowd and the "but there have to be some limits" crowd (well, that’s usually only me actually).

OK, OK, I admit it’s all subjective, and I can be as guilty as the next person.  In my organization I am often called upon to "prepare for publication or presentation by correcting, revising, or adapting" various public documents.  What I’m doing, of course, is redacting (that’s a real word, remember). But for some reason, we call it "wordsmithing," which of course is not a word.  "Wordsmith" is a noun, not a verb.  But for some reason, I don’t find this unbearable! 

That’s why I want to be the President of the Redactological Society.  So I can be the one to decide what is bearable and what is unbearable.  It would make life so much easier.