Expanding the lexicon

Alright, we’re adding charette to our vocabulary. Apparently, it’s French for “cart.

Alright, we’re adding charette to our vocabulary.

Apparently, it’s French for “cart.”

But we English speakers don’t mind ripping off words when they suit our purposes — helps keep the language interesting, alive.

Now, as a general rule, the French take a dim view of poaching foreign words. In fact, they have been known to set up bureaucracies that try to purge mongrel words from creeping into the language. They want to keep it pure.

C’est la vie.

English shamelessly steals ‘em.

And so, we have charette.

It’s not very common.

Apparently, it came to us from architects. They used to toss their assignments into pushcarts guided down lecture-room aisles by professors.

“Here’s the cart,” sounds pretty mundane.

“Time for the charette,” has more, er, cachet.

Hence, in English, charette came to mean the collection of ideas to solve a problem.

Whitehorse citizens have been introduced to the term by city planners, who recently held a charette on the new Porter Creek Lower Bench subdivision.

The city planners have been having a tough time convincing the public to support their subdivision plans. In Whitehorse, planner was becoming a bad word.

They needed a success.

By many accounts, this charette process has been one.

Initial accounts of the proposed Whistle Bend subdivision (nice name) sound promising.

The team has laid out residential, commercial development in a seven-kilometre loop that even considers transit.

The development also considers trails, parks, golf courses and environmental areas.

In short, it sounds like a great beginning.

Through this innovative process, the city has the makings of a success story.

That’s rare.

So we’re adding charette to our lexicon.

Bravo! (RM)

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