Knights who say Ni

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The Knights who say Ni are a band of knights from the comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, feared for the manner in which they utter the word "ni" (pronounced /╦łni/, like knee but clipped short). They are the keepers of the sacred words: Ni, Peng and Neee-Wom.[1]



The Knights are led by a man who is approximately 12 feet tall with disproportionately short arms and reindeer antlers inserted into his helmet (played by Michael Palin standing on a ladder; the original screenplay suggested that he be played by "Mike standing on John's shoulders"). The other Knights are of normal human proportions and act as a chorus, only repeating words and phrases that the head Knight has spoken.

"Ni!" is only the most notable of the sacred words which they are assigned to protect; the others being "Peng" and "Neee-wom". All of these words are infamous for the palpable horror and fear (and suggested pain) they bring about, whether delivered by the Knights or not. According to King Arthur, "Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale!" Later, the leader of the Knights who say Ni changes them to the Knights who say an odd string of syllables (although the knights apart from the head knight continue to say 'Ni'). The saying is spelled the following way according to the "script" subtitles available on the collector's edition DVD: "Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing Zow Zing!" Because of the challenging pronunciation, King Arthur simply refers to them as "The Knights Who 'Til Recently Said Ni". Originally, the name was to be changed to "the Knights Who Go Ni... Whom... Ping."

The Knights demand that King Arthur bring them a shrubbery to get their permission to pass through a patch of woodland they guard. They require that it must be one that looks nice and is not too expensive. Arthur and his companions return to a nearby village where they purchase a botanical shrubbery from "Roger the Shrubber" (played by Eric Idle). However, the head knight declares that they are now known as the Knights who say "Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing Zow Zing." In honour of their new title, the Knights demand that King Arthur get them another shrubbery (only slightly higher), and arrange the two shrubberies so that they get a two-level effect ("...with a little path running down the middle" at what point the surrounding Knights cry out in unison "A path, a path !"). After he has done this, they tell him to "...cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with... a herring!" Arthur refuses, claiming that such a feat cannot be done, to which the head Knight asks "Oh, please?"

The Knights happen to have a weakness in that a number of words, when spoken to them, has the same effect on them as their saying "ni" has on others. The only one of these words that is revealed in the film is the word "it," which is picked up on when Arthur, upon being asked to do the above task, declares that "it can't be done." Ultimately, King Arthur and Sir Robin (who shows up with his own knights) both say "it" several times in conversation (unaware that "it" was the word that was causing the Knights pain).

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