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Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language
Tom McArthurTom McArthur

Abridgement, also abridgment. 

1 The act, process, or result of shortening or condensing a text, usually to a given length such as half or one-third, or to a required number of words.

2 A work produced in this way: an abridgement of Thomas Hardy's novel Far from the Madding Crowd. In most abridgements, the intention is to keep the main sense and substance of a work, such as the main plot and characters in a novel. Abridgements are undertaken because:

  1. (1) A text may be longer than a given group (such as younger readers) is willing to attempt, but nonetheless of intrinsic interest to them: for example, by current standards, 19c novels like those of Hardy are too long and leisurely in their development, but nevertheless have plots and motifs of wide appeal.

  2. (2) Foreign learners of a language like English might benefit from a simplified abridgement of a novel that retains the human interest but replaces more difficult and longer passages with easier vocabulary and syntax and less bulk. See abstract, précis.

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