How do you spell it, anyway?

chanukah 3rd

The other day, I wrote a post referencing the start of the eight-day celebration that is observed by those of the Jewish faith. It was suggested to me that my spelling of the holiday–Hanukka–was incorrect. Since the word is a phonetic spelling of a word that doesn’t come from English (and what word does, really?), I decided to do some research to find out how others spell it. And the answers are a bit confusing.

I went to a local Target (not exactly a bastion of Judaica, but at least they had the Chex cereal that I needed) and found a tiny section of one aisle devoted to items that are related to the holiday. Note that I’m avoiding spelling out the word, until I share the findings of my research.

I found three items that could help me in this regard:

Candles for lighting from a company called Rokeach. Their spelling is CHANUKA.

Chocolate coins from Palmer Chocolates. Their spelling is HANUKKAH.

A big oversized dreidel from a company called BBM Chocolate. Their spelling is CHANUKAH.

So that’s three companies, all with different spellings. It reinforces my contention that there is no one correct way to spell the word. It seems that there are four major points of variation:

Two of the three items began the spelling with a “CH” while I used an “H” for mine. So I’m 0-for-1 so far.

All three spellings agreed that there is only one “N” so I’m up to 1-for-2 so far.

Two of the three spellings used a single “K” and I used two. I’m down to 1-for-3.

Two of the three spellings used an “H” at the end of the word, and I did not. So I wind up with a rather sad 1-for-4 average on the word overall.

Using the majority rule on all four areas of variance, I find that the word should be spelled CHANUKAH, which is the way that BBM Chocolate spelled it. Rokeach only missed one of the four points, Palmer Chocolates missed two, and I missed three. So a pretty dismal showing on my part, but at least now I know.

And now that I know the proper spelling, Happy Chanukah to you and yours.

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2 thoughts on “How do you spell it, anyway?

  1. I think all spellings are acceptable. It’s not an English word; it’s Hebrew. As long as you spell it correctly in Hebrew, and spell it phonetically (whatever that means for you) in English, it’s right.
    The reason people write “CH” is because it’s a guttural sound that doesn’t exist in English. Many people just say “Hanuka”, and that’s fine. But, for those who can say the guttural and want to be accurate, “ch” is used. That’s all.

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