Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Well, Well, Well -- Thoughts on Pronunciation

Somehow, I missed the confusion of artisan and artesian until recently. Maybe it's because I grew up with an artesian well in my garage (yes, really), but the meaning of that word has been clear to me for as long as I can remember.

Artisan became part of my vocabulary later, probably from historical fiction. Artisanal was later yet, in the last 20 years with the rise of the local food movement, but the connection to artisan was clear to me and I never gave it much thought. I heard it said aloud somewhere...ar-TIZ-uh-nuhl. Probably NPR.

But lately I keep hearing people say artesianal and artesian when artisanal and artisan are what's meant. The first one is bad enough, but the image of a bunch of artesians working at their crafts makes me chuckle. Maybe they're Naiads or something.

Naiads by Glenna Goodacre, cast in bronze. That doesn't look like an artesian fountain, though.

I know I'm trying to not be a grammar and usage curmudgeon, but this is a mistake that's hard to ignore. Some folks have gotten really confused, such as this product from Armstrong flooring: Artesian Hand-Tooled Flooring. Really? Or this store called Artesian Natural Foods in Stockton, California. (Maybe it was located by a well, originally. I'm not entirely sure, but they make no mention of it on their website.)


Michael Leddy said...

I’ve said ar-TEEZ-uh-nuhl, but only when I’ve had to, usually to poke fun at the word. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone use the word — I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered it only it print, on menus and signage.

Daughter Number Three said...

The people in the food industry that I've worked with all use the TIZZ pronunciation, but when I looked it up (online) I found not only TEEZ and TIZZ, but others who said it should be ar-tizz-uhn-UHL. Like artisan-uhl. Which seems very hard to say.

So there's little agreement, except that it's not "artesianal."