Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Colonel Tom Parker

Music History Monday: The Colonel

Let us contemplate the word “colonel.” No, we’re not talking about a discreet unit of corn, “k-e-r-n-a-l”; rather, we’re talking about the military rank and honorific of “colonel”: “c-o-l-o-n-e-l.” The word itself is of Italian origin; its root is the word colonna, which means “column”; in this case, as in a “column of soldiers”. By the sixteenth century, the word “colonello” was employed as a high military rank – someone who commanded a “column of soldiers” – in the various armies of the Italian city-states. Just as the French adapted Italian cuisine to create their own (that was thanks to the Florentine Princess Caterina Maria Romola di Lorenzo de’ Medici, who as Queen of France from 1547 until 1559 and Queen Mother from 1559 to 1589 brought her cooks and the fork to France, giving birth to French cuisine); yes, just as the French made Italian cuisine their own, so they borrowed the Italian word “colonello” and made it their own, spelling (and pronouncing) it “coronel” – “c-o-r-o-n-e-l”. By the seventeenth century, the English military had adopted the word as well, employing the French pronunciation – coronel – but the Italian spelling: colonel. The rank of colonel in the United […]

Continue Reading