It happens to the best of us. Fort Worth, now the 13th largest city in the country is too-often referred to as “Forth Worth.”
Here’s my column from 2012 on the subject:
On the muscle of my arm there's a red and blue tattoo
Says, Forth Worth I love you
Yes, it says Forth Worth I love you
– Michael Martin Murphy, 1974, courtesy of a website that don’t know Texas.
There is a scourge that is sweeping this city, my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas and no one seems to be lifting a weary, computer-keyboard typing finger to stop it.
I’m talking the Mayor, the City Manager, the Police Chief, the District Attorney or anyone with any authority in this great city where the west begins. They apparently could care less.
It is my belief that if action is not taken now – I mean real action, not appointing some committee that will hire someone for a focus group – the city of Fort Worth will cease to exist by 2025. That’s right, Panther City will be no more.
If nothing is done, we will instead be known as Forth Worth.
It may happen sooner if this week is any indication. I've received two letters in the mail addressed to “Forth Worth” and countless emails with the fictitious, as far as I know, city.
As editor of The Fort Worth Business Press, it has apparently fallen on my weary shoulders and carpel-tunnel-cramped arms to take up this cause as no one else has the moral vision and forbearance to lead us in our mission.
As much as it annoys someone as grammar-conscious as myself (it is my job) I’m sure others with ties to Fort Worth are equally, if not more, put off by the inaccuracy.
If you want to be conspiratorial about it, it’s all Bill Gates’s fault, as I believe Microsoft Word to be the primary culprit. Some versions of Word’s spelling function automatically “correct” Fort to Forth. I’m sure you can go into Word and mess around and figure out how to stop it from doing that, but how many people are going to do that? Not enough. So, since it’s always more fun to blame billionaires and hatch crackpot conspiracy theories, blame Bill. I doubt he’ll lose sleep over it.
But I don’t think I’m being totally conspiratorial. Imagine if New York were to autocorrect to Newt York? Do you think there would be a hue and cry from the media capital of the country? You can bet a stack of B&B Bagels on it.
And, of course, I have a confession to make. Here at the Fort Worth Business Press, we’ve made the mistake a couple of times at least. Believe me, it pains me to fess up. When I worked at an early daily newspaper group, my editor used to humor me when I would write ‘Fort Worth-Dallas area’ as opposed to the more typical ‘Dallas-Fort Worth area.’ It never caught on, but she let me try.
Now that Fort Worth has assumed a much more prominent role in the North Texas economy it seems only fitting that our great city should be shown the respect it has always deserved – to be addressed by its proper name. Instead, we seem to be losing the battle as Word and other auto-correct systems force us into living in ‘Forth Worth’ not Fort Worth.
Even when I checked a song lyrics website to get the words to the great Michael Martin Murphy song, “Fort Worth, I Love You,” the site had ‘corrected’ most of the lines to “Forth Worth, I love you.”
So let’s fight back using the inner-grammar schoolmarm in all of us. Make sure when you’re sending an email, a letter or even a Tweet, it says Fort Worth. We’ll all feel better for it.
Go forth and Forth no more.
Robert Francis is editor of the Fort Worth Business Press.