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A Bit of Fine-Tuning, 1: Between/Among

 
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Apr, 2003 07:39 pm
I've had that drummed into me since I was young. I don't know who first talked about it but it has been a pet peeve of my older sister's for years. It grates a little for me, but I just think it is interesting. So many say, for example, "That skill is my fort tay" thinking they are meaning "a strong point" when, in fact, they are saying that skill is my "loud". I think it has to do with wanting to add that Frenchified "tay" to the end of word ending in e.

Of course, when I say something is my forte... which I rarely do, not being particularly good at things and a good reason to be humble... I carefully pronounce it. Probably most people think I'm wrong. That's painful.

Here's what the American Heritage Dictionary online has to say about it:

Quote:
The word forte, coming from French fort, should properly be pronounced with one syllable, like the English word fort. Common usage, however, prefers the two-syllable pronunciation, (fôrt), which has been influenced possibly by the music term forte borrowed from Italian. In a recent survey a strong majority of the Usage Panel, 74 percent, preferred the two-syllable pronunciation. The result is a delicate situation; speakers who are aware of the origin of the word may wish to continue to pronounce it as one syllable but at an increasing risk of puzzling their listeners.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Apr, 2003 07:43 pm
I notice all Brits pronounce it that way and think it might stem from (what seems to me) the deliberate mis-pronunciation of most French words, probably due to historical animosity.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Apr, 2003 10:54 pm
Well, dumb old me. I never knew there was a distinction. And I find out about just when it's fading away.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 12:30 am
One of the numerous pronounciation http://grammarguide.port5.com/pronunciation.html
guides definates is like this:
Quote:

forte, pronounced "FOR-tay"

The word forte (pronounced "fort") is a French word meaning "strength" that is used in English to refer to one's talent or ability.

Example: English is my forte.
This word is often mispronounced "FOR-tay" because it is confused with the Italian word forte (pronounced "FOR-tay"). The words are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and meanings. If you play a musical instrument, you will probably recognize the Italian word as a term meaning "loud." When referring to ability, the correct pronunciation is "fort," but in music, it is always "FOR-tay."


The 100 Often Mispronounced Words list some more examples.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 08:11 am
Roberta -- (aphorisms are my forte Wink ) Better late than never.

Walter -- a very interesting link. English is such a bear... it has so many words, so many different mispronunciations and usages. Sometimes you just want to throw up your hands & scream. I would never have the patience to learn it today!
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 08:22 am
Walter -- For all intensive purposes??? LOL --I think that was the funniest from your list. I will still say persnickety though... you can't make me change such a silly word!

I didn't see the common mistake that one of my friends makes (a friend who shall remain nameless). She frequently talks about how "atypical" something is... but she means, it is obvious from what she says, that it is typical.

I tried to correct her once about 15 years ago... then gave up. Whenever she says it though, I laugh. She just thinks I'm jolly.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 09:24 pm
@Roberta,
Quote:
Do we all know the difference in usage between between and among? For those who don't, here's the skinny.


The skinny is indeed skinny. This is another bad bad prescription, a zombie rule.

" Once there [textbooks and manuals for writers], the prescription might well go on forever as a "zombie rule"; no matter how many times, and how thoroughly, it is executed by authorities (like Quirk, Biber, Huddleston & Pullum, or, for that matter, me), it continues its wretched life-in-death in style sheets and grammar checkers and the like."

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002189.html
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Mar, 2013 06:48 pm
@JTT,
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/between


There is a persistent but unfounded notion that between can be used only of two items and that among must be used for more than two. Between has been used of more than two since Old English; it is especially appropriate to denote a one-to-one relationship, regardless of the number of items. It can be used when the number is unspecified <economic cooperation between nations>, when more than two are enumerated <between you and me and the lamppost> <partitioned between Austria, Prussia, and Russia — Nathaniel Benchley>, and even when only one item is mentioned (but repetition is implied) <pausing between every sentence to rap the floor — George Eliot>. Among is more appropriate where the emphasis is on distribution rather than individual relationships <discontent among the peasants>. When among is automatically chosen for more than two, English idiom may be strained <a worthy book that nevertheless falls among many stools — John Simon> <the author alternates among modern slang, clichés and quotes from literary giants — A. H. Johnston>.
0 Replies
 
 

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