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Knish

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priya
986023.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:00 am Reply with quote

Is Knish the only word starting with 'kn' in the Oxford English Dictionary, with a non-silent 'K'?

 
'yorz
986026.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:18 am Reply with quote

Knorr has fallen victim of Anglicisation. Really should be pronounced with a K.

 
suze
986030.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:43 am Reply with quote

Most of the English words which start with <kn-> are of Germanic origin; the <k> was not silent in Old English and is not silent in German. Knorr is a good example of such, and its <k> has fallen silent more recently than the <k> of words like knee, knob, and knickers.

Knish - the Yiddish-from-Russian name for a snack food not unlike the Polish pierogi - still has its /k/ sound. But if it ever becomes a more commonly used word outside Jewish and migrant communities, that /k/ will probably disappear before long.

Are there any other examples? A quick look through the Concise Oxford gives only Knesset (the Israeli parliament; this is a Hebrew word which is regarded as a proper noun when used in English) and knopkierie (the Afrikaans spelling of knobkerrie, a sort of weapon; apparently the <k> is silent in the knob- spelling but pronounced in the knop- spelling).


It's a similar story when we look at <gn-> words. I reckon that most people do pronounce the /g/ sound in gnu, but in fact Messrs Oxford tell us not to. The word comes from a southern African language wherein it starts with a click consonant, but it's unsurprising that English hasn't embraced that.

I pronounce the /g/ sound in gnomon (the pointy bit of a sundial), but that may just be me.

 
'yorz
986060.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:16 am Reply with quote

I just found out that the g in gnostic doesn't get pronounced either. How odd - it does get pronounced when the word is agnostic.

 
Jenny
986072.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:04 am Reply with quote

I always feel as if I should pronounce the g in gnomic, but I think one shouldn't.

 
germananglophile
986083.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:56 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I always feel as if I should pronounce the g in gnomic, but I think one shouldn't.


I had to look the meaning of that word up first. Of course - forgive my addled German brain - at first I thought it was an adjective for 'gnome' and couldn't work out for the life of me where that would even come up. ;p

"Gnu" is another good example of "Gn" confusion - I believe (correct me if I'm wrong, I am after all bi-lingual) the "G" gets pronounced for that one, but especially here in the US it seems to fall to the way side.

 
Spud McLaren
986116.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:36 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
... I reckon that most people do pronounce the /g/ sound in gnu, but in fact Messrs Oxford tell us not to. ...
I rather think they didn't (in the UK at least) until a well-known Flanders & Swann song became, er, well-known.

 
germananglophile
986132.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:07 pm Reply with quote

Spud McLaren wrote:
suze wrote:
... I reckon that most people do pronounce the /g/ sound in gnu, but in fact Messrs Oxford tell us not to. ...
I rather think they didn't (in the UK at least) until a well-known Flanders & Swann song became, er, well-known.


I LOVE that song. And Flanders&Swann for that matter. :D
But seriously, it is pronounced "nju"? Huh. I guess that's where my own language interferes in my head, as it is "G-nu" there...

 
priya
986142.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:49 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Most of the English words which start with <kn-> are of Germanic origin; the <k> was not silent in Old English and is not silent in German. Knorr is a good example of such, and its <k> has fallen silent more recently than the <k> of words like knee, knob, and knickers.

Knish - the Yiddish-from-Russian name for a snack food not unlike the Polish pierogi - still has its /k/ sound. But if it ever becomes a more commonly used word outside Jewish and migrant communities, that /k/ will probably disappear before long.

Are there any other examples? .


Apparently 'Evel Knievel' has to come to mean 'daredevil'. Think at least this German surname wouldn't lose its charming pronounciation. By the way, OED doesn't recognise this yet but Wiktionary does.

 
priya
986143.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:55 pm Reply with quote

On an another pointless pursuit, I was curious if any amount of trees can be saved with the eliminiation of silent K from English, and used Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for testing. Quite surprised to find the page count remains the same after replacing all 'kn's with 'n's...

 
suze
986157.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:46 pm Reply with quote

priya wrote:
Apparently 'Evel Knievel' has to come to mean 'daredevil'.


Points to priya. For anyone who may not be familiar with him, Robert "Evel" Knievel was a motorcycle stuntman who was an A-list celebrity in my youth. His His son Robert "Kaptain" Knievel has followed the same trade.

And yes, the <k> is pronounced. In German the name would be of two syllabes, but in American it is three - the name is pronounced something like /kəˈni:vəl/.


That in turns reminds me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's more than thirty years (nearer forty in fact. Ouch!) since that was my reading book in school, but there are some scarey monsters in it called the Vermicious Knids. And Roald Dahl used some kind of phonetic device to indicate that the <k> is not silent.

 
germananglophile
986166.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:30 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
And Roald Dahl used some kind of phonetic device to indicate that the <k> is not silent.


Which reminded me of a great dark short story collection by Roald Dahl with a K-Title: "Kiss Kiss" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_Kiss,_Roald_Dahl

 

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