February 2, 2004 11:24 AM Subscribe
What is the correct pronunciation of "forte?" [more inside]
posted by Seth to Education (42 answers total)
Forte – a person’s strong area of ability.
Pronounced fort or for-tay?
I adamantly believe that the word is pronounced fort. The word is borrowed from the French word meaning the strongest part of the sword (fyi- foible is the weakest part of the sword). But the French word forte is pronounced like the way we pronounce a military fort, and it comes from the same Latin root, fortis.
Most people… I’d speculate 95% who actually use the word… pronounce the word for-TAY. That is the Italian pronunciation of the word forte, which in Italian is a musical term.
Now here is my question: I have always argued that it is INCORRECT to pronounce the word for-TAY. But some have argued with me that because it is accepted to pronounce it for-TAY, then it is not correct to call it an INCORRECT pronunciation.
Is for-TAY an incorrect pronunciation when used to describe someone’s strength? If fort is the correct pronunciation, does the fact that everyone pronounces it for-TAY make that the correct pronunciation?
Is there a threshold where a bastardization become the correct usage through common usage?