Tuesday, November 13, 2007

answer me this...

Thanks to the internet something that has literally been bugging me for decades has now been answered. Why the hell is the word "colonel" pronounced "kernel"??? Everytime I see the word colonel it makes me angry. I can't explain it, I seriously get flustered and if the word colonel was a tangible thing I could hold in my hand I would punch it.

So I found this answer on a website called Straight Dope from Cecil's storehouse of human knowledge.

A person writes:

Dear Cecil:

Why is "colonel" pronounced "kernel"? --Listener, Ed Busch talk show, Dallas

Cecil replies:

"Mainly to continue the tradition of making English as incomprehensible as possible, thereby keeping the spelling bee industry in business. (Believe me, there's millions in it.) Colonel comes from Old Italian colonello, commander of a column of troops, which in turn derives from colonna, column. It wasn't always spelled the Italian way, though. Four hundred years ago English followed the Spanish practice and spelled the word "coronel," sensibly pronounced the way it looked. Eventually this was corrupted to ker-nel, still not bad considering we're talking about the British, who pronounce "Featheringstonehaugh" "Fanshaw."

But it couldn't last. Some nameless busybody decided coronel ought to be spelled "colonel" to better reflect its Italian origin, doubtless out of the same misplaced love of precision that gave us 16-1/2 feet to the rod and 27 and 11/32 grains to the dram. It's just the Anglo-Saxon way, I guess. How these people conquered an empire I'll never know."


Thanks Cecil! I can finally sleep peacefully tonight.


ChiTown Girl said...

lLeave it to the damn Italians to cause you more stress in your life! Like me and my family weren't enough! ;-)

Smileygirl said...

Ha! Seriously. Those damn italians.

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