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Doug C

Ordet, Forte, and Language

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I've always known my pronunciation was off (you can hear the word in the film) but I've resigned myself to the fact that no one else in the US would know what film I was talking about if I pronounced it correctly.

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I watched Ordet twice without noticing how the word was pronounced -- but then just this past weekend Suz and I re-watched Babette's Feast, and that's when we caught it. It sounds almost like "OHRD't."

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BTW, Doug, I know what you mean about saying something right when 99% of English speakers say it wrong. It's almost worse than just caving and saying it wrong. I'm a stickler for getting it right, but in some cases this has driven me to simply avoid certain words altogether.

For example, the mispronunciation of "forte" as "for-TAY" (rather than "fort," which is correct) is so universal that I simply say "strong suit." It's not worth the hassle or mutual embarassment of having people try to correct you and then looking supercilious when you tell them that no, you ARE saying it right (and having them flat-out disbelieve you, breaking out the dictionary, etc.).

(There was one time, though, when I couldn't help myself. Back in my book publishing days, working as a book designer and production artist, I was known to the editorial staff as something of a strong writer, and they would frequently check with me on points of grammar and phrasing -- but as I began to transition into Web development I began working with new editors who didn't know me as well. And one time I was developing some pages for an editor whom I seem to recall having what I felt was an awkward choice of wording in some of her text; and I suggested what I thought would be an improvement. And she said rather dismissively, "Well, but you're not an English person." Now, I could have said, "Well, you're right, I'm an American person." But instead I said, "Well, I've always thought of English as a special forte of mine." And of course she said "It's 'for-TAY.'" Zing!)

However, now that I have learned from Babette's Feast that the word is pronounced "OHRd't" or OHR-dit," I'm going to bite the bullet and say it right. (Hang it all, why didn't we just translate the title in the first place? Nobody talks in English about "Babettes G

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Hah! I've always pronouned it "Or-DAY"!

I take comfort in the fact that no one has ever challenged my pronunciation.

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I like saying it the authentic way because then I can use my Swedish Chef voice and mix in a bunch of unintelligible Scandinavian-sounding gibberish.

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Hmm. What exactly is in that longpipe of yours, Russ? grin.gif

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It's rather odd. On the one hand, we say Ordet, La Stada, Au Revoir, Les Enfants

Edited by SDG

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SDG, that is way too anal a way to approach life. Live a little! Go out and say "for-TE" right now! Maybe some wrinkles will magically come out of your brow. If the majority say or-DET then it's or-DET (spoken as one who has spent years in Scandanavia and realizes that the average person there speaks better English than the local at Dunkin Donuts).

If we're going to hang it all, let's realize that words only begin communication. The word Ordet doesn't mean anything to an English person unless they've seen the film.

And anyway, the dictionary doesn't change society, society changes the dictionary.

-s.

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And for the record the proper spelling is Scandinavia. OH SORRY I WAS TALKING TO MYSELF! grin.gif

-s.

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FWIW, regarding "forte", Merriam Webster says:

In
forte
we have a word derived from French that in its "strong point" sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \'for-"tA\ and \'for-tE\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived forte. Their recommended pronunciation \'fort\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word
le fort
and would rhyme it with 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 \'fo-"tA\ and \'fot\ predominate; \'for-"tA\ and \for-'tA\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English.

stef wrote:

: And anyway, the dictionary doesn't change society, society changes the dictionary.

Heh. Anybody here ever read Frindle? smile.gif

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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In forte we have a word derived from French that in its "strong point" sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation.

Well, there you go. My practice of never saying it at all is entirely vindicated. smile.gif

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Actually, Steven, I've sometimes seen the film refererd to as The Word, and it always throws me at first, like 'wow, a Dreyer film I haven't heard of...huh, this sounds an awful lot like Ordet...oh.' (A thought process that occurs in about a second.)

I was also reading an older essay written by Rohmer recently, who talked abut the great film The Wind Blows Where It Wills, which also threw me until I recognized it.

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For example, the mispronunciation of "forte" as "for-TAY" (rather than "fort," which is correct) is so universal that I simply say "strong suit." It's not worth the hassle or mutual embarassment of having people try to correct you and then looking supercilious when you tell them that no, you ARE saying it right (and having them flat-out disbelieve you, breaking out the dictionary, etc.).

SDG - this reveals that you are different to me in two ways. Firstly I'm a pragmatist so that I largely (but not entirely) agree with Stef that "the dictionary doesn't change society, society changes the dictionary", at least where there is a sufficiently big consensus, even if it's formed by ignorance rather than education. Ordet is different though because it's the pronunciation of a foreign world and either you agree that automatically that country should have the right to pronounce their own word, or even if you go with the consensus view on this then the number of Danes must be great than the number of British & Americans who discuss Dreyer films.

Secondly, I will now spend the next few days desperately trying to use forte (pronounced "fort") as much as I can primarily in the hope that someone will challenge me, we'll have to resort to my all too well thumbed dictionary, and then I'll try and suppress my smugness for fear of getting a smack in the chops (mouth). (I do fear that my wife's eyes may one day roll out of their sockets from over use due to my love of pedantry).

FWIW I consulted the dictionary this morning on this one, and I think the confusion stems from the fact that the musical expression forte should be pronounced "for-tay", but the meaning strong suit should indeed be pronounced "fort" but the meanings are similar enough to lead people to thinking the words are one and the same and thus pronounced the same.

But then linguistics is not my fort.

Matt

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is Ordet then pronounced similar to thwe English word "audit"? Is there a similarity do you reckon?

Matt

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Alan, greatest split you've ever done. You saved The Word, and for that, I thank you.

-s.

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MattPage wrote:

: I think the confusion stems from the fact that the musical expression forte should be

: pronounced "for-tay", but the meaning strong suit should indeed be pronounced "fort" . . .

Okay, now I'm REALLY confused ... when I was a wee lad, I used to listen to a tape that taught children about musical instruments, and there was a song by a character who sang, "I am Mort / The pianoforte," and he pronounced it "fort" ... and as you may know, "pianoforte" is the full name of that instrument the moniker of which is usually abbreviated to "piano" ...

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