- Joanne Oppenheim
What’s the Plural of Knish?
Back in the day, when the New York Times wrote about the Knish War down on Rivington Street (Jan. 1916) the writer (not identified by name) questioned if the plural of knish is knishes or knishi…as in Hippopotamuses or Hippi.
It must have been confusing for up-towners to get used to the immigrant down-towners, Italians and Jews, who brought new foods with strange names to the ever-expanding world of New York City.
In the Mediator, a newspaper of the day, the reporter tried to explain how to pronounce the word k-n-i-s-c-h?
"K" in Knisch as in Pigs' Knuckles It is pronounced, or, better, they are pronounced - k-nisches, the accent being smeared impartially over the k and the nisches, as in the word k-nuckles, when used in connection with pigs' knuckles. Knishes or Knishi?
Such an odd way of explaining it. This explanation had to be for up-towners, since those who consumed Knishes—mostly Jewish down-towners—already knew how to pronounce knishes and it had nothing to do with pigs’ knuckles, which were not on their kosher menu.
Apparently, the Mediator writer ( who is also not identified by name) had no idea of how to pronounce them ‘nisches. It’s true, as I always taught my 1st graders, the letter “k” is almost always silent when it’s followed by an “n”; silent as in knuckles or knot or knit or knead. But not when it comes to knishes!
When is the K pronounced? Well, in Knesset, the Israeli parliament, (which did not exist in 1916). Correct me if I'm wrong, but, the only other exception I know of is in…knishes. It’s definitely pronounced in knishes.
Read more about The Knish War on Rivington Street on my webpages.