How do you spell Chanukah?

Posted by: Ken Kaus on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 3:00:00 pm

The holiday of Chanukah is just 8 days away.  For the next 8 days, we will be posting on our blog, lists of 8 in celebration.  In our opening post we talk about different ways to spell the holiday and give you 8 different ways to spell it.

Reasons For Different Spellings

In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah is written חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה (Ḥănukkāh). It is most commonly transliterated to English as Chanukah or Hanukkah, the former because the sound represented by "CH" ([χ], similar to the Scottish pronunciation of "loch") does not exist in the English language. Furthermore, the letter "chet" (ח), which is the first letter in the Hebrew spelling, is pronounced differently in modern Hebrew (voiceless uvular fricative) than in classical Hebrew (voiceless pharyngeal fricative [ħ]), and neither of those sounds is unambiguously representable in English spelling. Moreover, the 'kaf' consonant is geminate in classical (but not modern) Hebrew. Adapting the classical Hebrew pronunciation with the geminate and pharyngeal Ḥeth can lead to the spelling "Hanukkah"; while adapting the modern Hebrew pronunciation with no gemination and uvular Ḥeth leads to the spelling "Chanukah". It has also been spelled as "Hannukah".

Eight ways to spell:hanukiah-image

  1. Chanukah
  2. Hanukah
  3. Hanukkah
  4. Hanukka
  5. Hannukka
  6. Chanuka
  7. Channukah
  8. Hannukah

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