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13.13: Lesson Thirteen

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Spelling [k] in the Middle of Words

1. Often when a [k] is in the middle of a word, it is actually at the beginning or the end of a shorter word, or free stem, inside the longer one. For instance, there is a [k] in the middle of recall. But recall actually is made up of the prefix re- and the free stem call: recall = re + call. The [k] in call behaves just the way it is supposed to when it is at the front of a word: It is spelled <c> rather than <k> because it does not have an <e> or \text{<i>} after it, and it is not spelled <ck> because words don't start with <ck>.

The word darkroom has a [k] in the middle. But darkroom is a compound that analyzes to the two free stems dark and room: darkroom = dark + room. So the [k] in darkroom is really at the end of the free stem dark - and it behaves just as it is supposed to: It is spelled <k> rather than <c> or <ck> because of the consonant in front of it.

2. All of the following words have a [k] somewhere in the middle. Each of the words actually contains a free stem that has the [k] either at the beginning or the end.

First, underline the letters that spell [k].

Second, analyze each word enough to show the free stem that begins or ends with [k].

Third, be ready to talk about why the [k] is spelled the way it is in the free stems.

Word Analysis
checkout
unconscious
unkindly
remarkable
inconsistent
unenthusiastically
trickiest
passkey
breakfast
musicality
encourage
trickster
sickeningly
wreckage
mistakenly
jackknife
bookcase
schlockiest
backcast
unluckily

3. <K>-insertion. In a very few words there is a <ck> spelling that occurs when a free stem that ends in <c> has a suffix added to it that starts with <e>, <\text{i}>, or <y>: A <k> is inserted after the <c>: For instance, panic + ed = panic + k + ed = panicked. The <k> is inserted to avoid having the <c> look as if it should be pronounced as a soft <c>, [s] before the <e>, <\text{i}>, or <y>, as it would in *paniced.

Here are some other words that involve <k> insertion. Analyze each one to show how the the <k> was inserted:

Word Analysis: Free stem + suffix
panicked panic + k + ed
panicky
picnicking
trafficker
bivouacked
sicked*

^*As in “He sicked his dog on the burglar.”

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Feb 23, 2012

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Apr 29, 2014
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