Date: Thu, 9 Nov 1995 08:54:53 EST


Subject: Re: No 'friend of yours'

Seth writes:

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

My sister, who was a Phi Beta Kappa (they must have been desperate that year)

took great delight in correcting people. One of her favorites was:

"It's my forte," which she insisted was pronounced (fort) and not (fortay).

(Fortay) is an Italian musical term.

She had no friends.

No need to ask Phi Beta Kappa to reclaim your sister's award. In fact,

etymologically speaking, your sister was right. The expression you cite

is a calque on the French "C'est mon fort" (it's/that's my strong point)

and has no direct connection with the Italian 'forte', although the latter is

obviously a cognate of Fr. _fort_, both from Lat. _fortis_. Somewhere along

the way, the spelling was changed to _forte_, perhaps through a folk etymology

with the more familiar musical term.

On the other hand, both Webster's and the OED give _knarled_ as a now

obsolete variant of _gnarled_, so maybe _knarly_ is historically correct (or

at least attestable).