..and why is Arkansas pronounced ARKEN-SAH and not ARKAEN-SAS?
Because that's how people say it.
If people said "ar-CAN-sis", that would become standard.
Language is driven by Usage.
Usage creates pronunciation.
Pronunciations become standard ......until enough people start using a different pronunciation. It doesn't have anything to do with meaning or origin.
Usage can also create meaning, but that's another thread.
Eva used one of my favorites -
In Oklahoma, Miami is myAMuh.
In Florida - Miami is myAMme.
In New York - Houston is HOUSEtin.
In Texas - Houston is YOUstin.
Set is correct about the meaning and origin of forte
but the usage of the pronunciation FORtay
supplies the dictionary and linguistics people with all the evidence they need to print:
In forte we have a word derived from French that in its “strong point” sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \ˈfȯr-ˌtā\ and \ˈfȯr-tē\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived forte. Their recommended pronunciation \ˈfȯrt\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word le fort and would pronounce it more similar to English for. So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English \ˈfȯ-ˌtā\ and \ˈfȯt\ predominate; \ˈfȯr-ˌtā\ and \fȯr-ˈtā\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English.
Very nicely put. I try to use the words "strong point" to avoid all the problems.
What I can't figure out is Prix Fixe.
Here in New York I have heard:
Joe(I just order the LUNCH with WINE)Nation