September 19, 2004

The stet offensive, pt. 2

One Cargo article that I was recently called upon to copyedit was a page of candles, with the fragrance of each candle briefly described. One candle's scent had been characterized as "potent jasmine" and something or other. The editor in chief had struck out "potent", saying it had too much of a negative connotation, and asked for a new word. A later editor had replaced it with "redolent".

Firstly, I think "redolent" has a much more negative connotation than "potent", which sounds pretty positive to me. If it had been "impotent jasmine", I could see the objection. (I assume he was trying to avoid giving the sense that the candle was too stinky.) But "redolent"? Emily and I had a discussion about the change where I said...well, "redolent" means "aromatic". Aren't all these candles redolent? If it's redolent, that just means it smells like something. What is a candle supposed to smell like if not something that smells like something?

Happily, the editor in chief agreed with us. We ended up going with "concentrated". See the outcome of this and other sagas in the holiday issue of Cargo.

Posted by Francis at 11:36 PM