Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Artisanal"

On last Thursday's Daily Show the first segment (which you can watch above) focused on the congressional hold-up of the approval of the new Secretary of Defense over from an Oregon senator over releasing memos about the drone program. The joke that Jon Stewart made (about 2:31 in to the clip) suggested the president should watch out for a strongly worded letter on "artisanal hemp paper" (lampooning the hipster image of that state's largest city).

I enjoyed the humor of the segment, but also that particular joke caught my ear because it included a word that recently had inspired some rumination on its pronunciation: artisanal.

Yeah, that's how my mind works.

Jon pronounced it as I'd come to hear it most commonly, with the accent on the second syllable (ar-TIS-an-al), but on the Culture Gabfest a month ago (in a discussion about, of all things, "artisanal horror movies") host Stephen Metcalf pronounced it with the emphasis on the first syllable (AR-tis-an-al), same as how the noun (which is the basis for the adjective) tends to be pronounced (AR-tis-an), just with the "-al" tacked on the end.

That led me to consult the dictionary about what is considered the "proper" way of saying the adjective form, and it was as Metcalf said it, not as Stewart (and most others I recall hearing) said it. I still think the adjective with the accented second syllable sounds better, which almost certainly is another victory of pretentiousness but such is life. The larger conclusion we can draw about this: Now that the distinction has come into my consciousness I'm probably going to notice it every time I hear that term said.

Again: Yeah.

I'm not saying I hope to go deaf, but if at any point in my life my hearing diminishes that would have the modest advantage of rendering me incapable of having uncommon pronunciations send my mind off on these digressions.

~

Someone needs to get me an artisanal brain.

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