[DWJ] colonel v. kernel was Re: "Orthogonal" (orthogonally to T-shirt slogans)

Otter Perry ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com
Mon Jun 7 16:29:22 EDT 2010

It started as an Old Italian word, colonnello, for the leader of
a column of soldiers, a colonna. Then it was picked up by the
French who, because of a linguistic process called dissimilation
[where sounds which are similar become different], spelled
and pronounced it as coronel. English picked it up in the 16th
century [C 15].

Then the French, in one of those moves that written languages
sometimes make, decided to change it back to the more
etymologically correct colonnel. The British, influenced by
the French and by reading Italian military works, decided to
spell it colonel in the 17th century [C 16].

But the pronunciation stayed the same. So much for written

[What we _should_ have picked up from the Italians was their
  rational way of naming centuries.]

On Jun 7, 2010, at 1:45 PM, Jenny Schwartzberg wrote:

> Dear Otter,
> Please do share that tidbit about why colonel is pronounced  
> kernel.  I've always been curious myself!
> Jenny
>> "Colonel"
>> was another one. [I was just reading a very interesting tidbit
>> about why it is that we pronounce "colonel" as "kernel".]


If at first the idea is not absurd, then there
is no hope for it.

                                          - A. Einstein

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