late-in-life realization

I’m 41 years old. And yet it only just occurred to me today, while playing The New York Times Spelling Bee, that the word “kneel” comes from the word “knee,” as in, to go down on one’s knees. I never in my life thought of them as etymologically related before. I guess that’s because knee has a long e sound and kneel has a different vowel sound — a diphthong? Still, you’d think that I would have connected it during one of the thousands of times I have knelt on my knees in my life.

Every once in a while, I have another one of these startling discoveries. How have I gone through four decades of life, and they are still happening? I guess it’s sort of fun, but it also makes me feel a little ditsy.

2 thoughts on “late-in-life realization

    • Well, I just looked up the phonetic spelling of kneel and it’s /niːl/, which means that you are right (since a colon indicates a long vowel sound). But to my ear kneel doesn’t sound like knee-l, it sounds like kn-eal, which sounds halfway between knee-l and nail. To me at least — but my ear and my pronunciation are often totally screwed up. 🙂

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