forte (was: Re: Accents in Am. English)

Dfcoye at AOL.COM Dfcoye at AOL.COM
Thu Jun 15 01:13:57 UTC 2000

I'd recommend using the accent marks in words like cafe, protege, soufle, and
fiance where it indicates that the final 'e' is to be pronounced as in French
(IPA /e/), and it otherwise looks like a silent e.  But in cases  like the
first 'e' of elite where nearly everyone in the USA uses epsilon, or schwa
there's no point in using the accent mark (I would have said absolutely
everyone, but two days ago I heard a colleague pronouncing it /'e lit/-- it
took me a minute or two to figure out what he meant).  Similarly 'resume'
needs an accent on the final 'e', but none on the first 'e' because the first
is epsilon, the second /e/ for nearly everyone-- again I have encountered the
rare pronunciation of the first vowel as /e/-- but it sounds bizarre.
Curriculum vitae, by the way should be pronounced to rhyme with 'mighty' if
the normal rules of anglicization of Latin were to be followed, but I think
most people use the 'restored Latin' pronunciation /'vi tei/.   But no one
says /ku rIk u lum/... consistency is not our forte (which you almost have to
pronounce /for te/ or everyone will THINK you're  ignorant.

Dale Coye
The College of NJ

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