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13.21: Sometimes [k] is Spelled < ch >, Sometimes < lk >

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Sometimes [k] is Spelled <ch>, Sometimes <lk>

1. We borrowed the letters of our alphabet from the Romans. The Romans had borrowed their alphabet from a group of people called the Etruscans. And the Etruscans had borrowed their alphabet from the Greeks. One of the Greeks' letters looked like our <X>. It was called chi, pronounced [ki¯], and it spelled the sound [k]. When we borrowed Greek words that contained chi, we changed the spelling from <x> to <ch>, still pronounced [k]—as in words like chorus, school, and Christmas . Most of the words in English that contain the sound [k] spelled <ch> come from old Greek words with chi. Underline the <ch> spellings of [k] in each of the following words:


2. Sort the words into the three groups described below:

Words in which [k] is spelled <ch> ...
at the front in the middle at the end
chorus orchestra scheme ache
chronicle psychology anchor monarch
chaos school technical stomach
chemical mechanic psychiatrist
character schedule scholar
chord architect orchid
Christmas echo

3. There is one other spelling of [k] that is worth a special look. In a few words [k] is spelled <lk> — as in chalk. A long time ago the <l> was pronounced, but no longer. All of the following words contain an <l> that is usually no longer pronounced. Six of them end in the sound [k] spelled <lk>. Sort the sixteen words into the four groups described below:


Words that end ...
<lk> <lf> <lm> <lve>
walk calf salmon salve
folk halfway calm halve
talk behalf palm calves
yolk psalm

4. In the words in which [k] is spelled <lk>, what letter usually is right in front of the <l>? <a>. In words in which [k] is spelled <lk>, what other letter sometimes is right in front of the <l>? <o>. In words that end <alk>, which does the <a> spell: [a] or [o]? [o] . In words that end <olk>, which does the <o> spell: [o] or [o¯]? [o¯].

Word Histories. The first letter of the Greek word for Christ was chi – or <X> – which is why we sometimes abbreviate our word Christmas to Xmas. The <x> in Xmas is really the old Greek chi.

Teaching Notes.

Item 1. Ache is not from Greek; it is from Old English. The verb form was originally spelled <ake>. For more see the Word Histories in Book 6, Lesson 11.

Chord has the homophone cord “a string or thin rope.” Chord is most often used to refer to a combination of musical notes, though it has other technical meanings. Notice that it is chord in the phrase “to strike a chord,” meaning to create a feeling in someone.

Item 2. Saccharin contains the spelling [k]= <cch>, which reflects a Greek word with the sequence kappa followed by chi, <kkh,> which in Latin usually became <cch>. Zucchini also contains [k]= <cch>. In this case the <cch> comes from Italian. Zucchini was spelled succini in America as late as 1929 but was then respelled to reflect its Italian origins.

Item 3. The similar <lm> spelling of [m] is treated in a supplementary lesson in the teaching notes to Book 5, Lesson 35.

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Feb 23, 2012
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Jul 07, 2015
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