Friday, September 21, 2007


Having recently returned from Paris, I remember passing by an atelier or two in the 1er Arrondissement. It's not quite the same thing there...

Atelier comes from the Latin "assula", a chip or splinter, as a diminuitive of "assis" for a board. Through a series of variant Latin spellings, we add a "t" and end up with "astulla", which through Old French becomes "astelier", for a carpenter's shop. The loss of the "s" now does not change that it is still a woodshop, and not just the commonly known workshop. In Paris, the atelier is where they make and repair furniture. Elsewhere in the world, even when talking about France, it is a place for work of the hands (painting, pottery, jewelry).

Ah well, as a purist, you know where my tendencies lie. My usage will only be for the carpenter's shop, but it's hard to find an atelier in the Yellow Pages, and if I ever want a place for my budding dress-making business, I'll just have to rent a studio.

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