or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Art For Art's Sake

I mostly ignore all the new shows on television, because most of them are going to be really bad, and if they're not, I'll end up watching them, and who has the time? But for no apparent reason, I watched "Ugly Betty" this evening, and it wasn't great--Jim thought it was essentially a slow-paced "The Devil Wears Prada"--but it wasn't bad, either, because I just love a plucky heroine.

Midway through the episode there was some lame joke about an old guy feeding the pigeons, only he's a rich old guy, so he's feeding them artisanal bread. Did not one single person on the set--the director, the actors, the cameraman, anybody--know that "artesian" and "artisanal" are not the same word? Because the actor called upon to say the line said "ar-TEE-zhun-ul", which is to say "artesianal", which doesn't exist.

"Artesian", as in "artesian well", comes from an old French spelling of the town of Artois, which is the proper noun that gave the beer Stella Artois--"the star of [brewmaster Sebastian] Artois"--its name. (Artois was formerly Arteis, and the adjectival version was "artesien", "of Arteis".)

"Artisanal", on the other hand, is the adjectival form of "artisan", and it's obviously related to "art". "Artisanal" in the context of foodstuffs means "made in small quantities by hand"; it's the very opposite of "mass-produced". It's pronounced either "AR-tuh-zan-ul" or "AR-tuh-ZAN-ul", depending on your preferences (I prefer the latter).

So maybe the bread was from Artois: I don't know. But though it might have been artisanal, it definitely wasn't "artesianal".


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