Why is “colonel” pronounced “kernel”?

Random etymological lesson of the day, sparked by Muaz’s tweet:


The Straight Dope:

Four hundred years ago English followed the Spanish practice and spelled the word “coronel,” sensibly pronounced the way it looked. Eventually this was corrupted to ker-nel, still not bad considering we’re talking about the British, who pronounce “Featheringstonehaugh” “Fanshaw.”

But it couldn’t last. Some nameless busybody decided coronel ought to be spelled “colonel” to better reflect its Italian origin, doubtless out of the same misplaced love of precision that gave us 16-1/2 feet to the rod and 27 and 11/32 grains to the dram.