Posted by: episystechpubs | August 25, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Kn Words

Dear Editrix,

My daughter and I were talking about words like knee and knew, and we were wondering why we ever started using the silent “k” and why we still do. Any ideas on this?

Sincerely,

Knight of the Knitted Brow

Dear Knight,

I found this article on Daily Writing Tips that I thought I’d share with you. I think they do a great job researching and answering this question for us. I hope it satisfies your family’s curiosity.

Editrix

Kn Words in English

A teaching site offers this rule for dealing with “silent k”: “k is often silent before n.”

An easier way to retain this information is to forget about “silent k” altogether. In a word like knot, k is not “a silent letter” at all, but part of the distinct phonogram kn.

The symbol kn is just another way to spell the sound /n/.

The spelling kn in a word like knave evolved from the Old English spelling cn, in which the “c” represented a guttural sound similar to the sound /k/. For example, the OE words from which our words knight, knot, and knave have evolved were spelled cniht, cnotta, and cnafa and pronounced with a hard first sound. The guttural sound eventually dropped out, leaving only the /n/ sound, but the old spelling has survived in kn.

Here are some familiar kn words.

knapsack
knave
knead
knee
kneel
knell
know
knickknack
knife
knight
knit
knob
knock
knoll
knotgrass
knothole
knowledge
knuckle

Note: For the remainder of the article see Daily Writing Tips.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


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