Word Wise – Forte

Word Wise

While in line at the supermarket, totally not eavesdropping mind you; some people are just loud talkers, I overheard a woman lamenting about her ability, or rather lack of ability in the area of sewing. She sighed, “Sewing is just not my forte.” People say it all the time, the problem is, they are saying it incorrectly, if you want to nit-pic about it and I sometimes do.

I have an almost unnatural affinity for words, I take care to use them as properly as I possibly can. I will unashamedly admit I used to say it wrong as well. Most of us do. I guess you could say words are my forte and you would be pronouncing it, or at least I would be pronouncing it as fōrt. One simple syllable, fort. This pronunciation defines the subject as a persons strong point, or something they are extremely capable of.

The oft used two-syllable pronunciation of forte, fōr′tā, is technically a musical term meaning loud and forceful, pertaining to a section of a musical score.

Now for the most part, the arguably finer sounding of the two words is widely accepted when explaining your particular prowess in an area of achievement. I understand, everyone knows what you mean when you announce something is your fortay. You are likely to get strange looks if you tell someone your fort is cooking, they may envision your kitchen chairs and couch cushions with blazing sheets draped over them.

I concede, I prefer the sound of forte with two lovely syllables, it flows nicely and sounds proper, whereas the shorter version is an unexpectedly abrupt and juvenile conversation enhancer. Still, I can’t stop my mind from mentally correcting someone each time I hear it.

There is one more lesser known definition to the word you may not have heard of unless you happen to be a swordsman or fencing enthusiast. Forte, again pronounced fort, is a strong section of a blade between the hilt and the middle of the object.

I feel purged, this has been swirling around in my mind for two days. Holding onto random, meaningless thoughts must be yet another forte of mine, pronounce how you wish . . .

Crystal R. Cook

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