Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kernal* (for Kernel*)

Recently, I overheard a woman refer to that well-known feeling of dread or apprehension as "having this pit in my stomach." The correct expression, of course, is "having a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach," but it occurs to me that her "original" phrasing also evokes the classic childhood fear of what might happen should you accidentally swallow a seed, a pit, or a kernel. You could start growing an entire tree in there! (I was telling a friend the other day about how my grandmother once threw a peach pit into the backyard and it actually grew into a tree.) Apples have seeds and peaches have pits, but it seems like only corn have kernels. And in case you're afraid of germinating some giant Jack and the Beanstalk-like cobs in your tummy, remember what happens when you eat some unpopped [I just wrote that "unpooped"!] popcorn, otherwise known by some people I know as "duds" or "old maids": they basically pass right through your system essentially unchanged. Corn and computers appear to be the two primary areas that use the term kernel; in either case, though, Kernal would be a typo. And a pretty common one at that. Avoid any pitfalls, along with that pit in the pit of your stomach, and tackle this typo poste-haste. There were 47 cases of it found in OhioLINK today, and 1,049 in WorldCat.

(Popcorn 'Pink' or Zea mays, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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