If CDs were old tech


Black and White Keys

Did Bartolomeo Cristofori have any choice when he came up with the name for his invention, the fortepiano? This particular exocentric adpositional abbreviation – for that is what it seems to be – could just have easily been the other way round. Which would mean that the more modern instrument, the pianoforte, would presumably have to have been called the fortepiano.
An arbitrary choice made about three hundred years ago could instead have resulted in a whole different set of words and phrases. The forte man playing forte music in the forte bar. A forte roll being pumped through a forteola. You’ve heard of of Joe ‘Mr Forte’ Henderson, the films – Campion’s "The Forte", Polanski’s "The Forteist". Signage, like "Don’t shoot the Forte Player", "teeth like forte keys". Ladies of dubious virtue advertising forte lessons. And what of the rhyming slang? I can’t actually think of a girl’s name which, unlike Joanna, rhymes with forte.