Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

COLONEL

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

COLONEL

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Aug 20, 2007 11:35 pm

• colonel •

Pronunciation: kê(r)-nêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The rank in the US military (except the Navy) between lieutenant colonel and brigadier general.

Notes: The problem, of course, in keeping track of today's Good Word is remembering how to spell it. Since it is pronounced exactly like kernel (for reasons laid out in Word History), we would not expect to spell it colonel. However, we are talking about English where the disjuncture between pronunciation and spelling can exceed the bizarre (read The Chaos if you haven't already).

In Play: We do not have much latitude with today's Good Word; it is nothing more than a military rank: "Don't disturb the colonel right now, lieutenant, he's in conference with General Jack Daniels." It can be used as a noun or as a title, as in this sentence: "Rumor has it that Colonel Achruth got his Purple Heart driving through DC traffic at rush hour."

Word History: Today's word originated in Italian as colonello, the leader of a regiment but perhaps originally the leader of a column, colonna in Italian. When the French borrowed this word, it didn't like so many Ls in the word and so by a process called 'dissimilation', replaced the middle L with an R: coronnel. This occurred around the middle of the 16th century, about the time English borrowed it. Notice the pronunciation is very similar to that of kernel at this point, since the middle unaccented O would be overlooked even in normal speech ('LVS'). By the end of the 16th century, scholars realized that the French were spelling this word incorrectly, and changed the spelling back to colonel. Speakers, however, most of whom could not read, did not get the message and continued to pronounce this word cor'nel. (We would like to thank Chuck Lee for suggesting today's little lexical kernel for examination.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3565
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Postby gailr » Mon Aug 20, 2007 11:47 pm

I've wondered about colonel...thanks for the explanation.

Now, about those "lef-tenants"...
User avatar
gailr
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:40 am

Postby sluggo » Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:06 pm

I can never read this word without thinking of an old 78 record my Dad had around the house with the longest song title I'd ever heard, "Would You Rather Be a Colonel With an Eagle On Your Shoulder Or A Private With a Chicken On Your Knee?" (now appearing on the Internets).
Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots! Knife no one, fink!
sluggo
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1476
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:58 pm
Location: Carolinia Agrestícia: The Forest Primeval

Postby Stargzer » Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:32 am

Ooh! Great, Sluggo! I've heard the title before but never the song! I'll have to pass that on to a coworker, a Captain in the Maryland National Guard who was called up and sent back over to Iraq. Somehow, though, I don't think the privates under his command will face the same reception as a WWI Doughboy in France. ;-) Come to think of it, another coworker, actually my supervisor, left us to go full-time as a L(igh)t. Colonel working at Ft. Meade, location of The Puzzle Palace. (It was more interesting work that was more in line with what he was trained to do and wanted to do.) He'll get a copy, too. :)

As for Full Colonels, a Navy Captain is an O-6, the equivalent of a Full Bird Colonel, the subject of this topic. An Army Captain is a mere O-3, the equivalent of a Navy Lieutenant.

Which leads in to my story: a section chief I worked for back in the late 1970s was a retired Army sergeant who had often travelled with an Army captain. Whenever they went to a Naval base, they'd travel in civies instead of uniform and the officer would sign in as "Captain So-and-so." No swabbie was brave (or dumb!) enough to ask if he was an Army or a Navy Captain.

:D
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
User avatar
Stargzer
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2551
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Crownsville, MD

Postby Perry » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:42 am

sluggo wrote:I can never read this word without thinking of an old 78 record my Dad had around the house with the longest song title I'd ever heard, "Would You Rather Be a Colonel With an Eagle On Your Shoulder Or A Private With a Chicken On Your Knee?" (now appearing on the Internets).


The lyrics were cute, but the MP3 refused to play, for reasons unknown.
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
Anonymous
User avatar
Perry
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2306
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:50 am
Location: Asheville, NC


Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 6 guests