Why There Are So Many Ways to Spell Hanukkah

English is a language notorious for its strange spellings, and its speakers are more willing to tolerate aberrations than are speakers of other languages.

A menorah made up of various hashtags and references to social media. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

A menorah made up of various hashtags and references to social media. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

Observation
Dec. 25 2019
About the author

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.


Are we celebrating Hanukkah or Chanukah this week? Neither the English language nor American Jews would seem to have decided which way to spell the word. One sees it in both its H- and Ch-forms, and while it’s my impression that the former is steadily gaining, the contest shows no sign of ending soon.

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