Chanukah 2010.1: Chanukah, Oh Hannukka(h)…

Every year around this time, I get a lot of requests for the correct spelling of Chanukah.  According to there are a dozen or more ways one might see the name for the Jewish Festival of Lights spelled.  However, my answer is always the same.

The correct spelling is in Hebrew, so all English transliterations are merely approximations.  Still, some approximations seem more correct than others.  I’ll break it down and let you make the call:

The first letter of the work is Chet, which makes a “ch” sound as in Challah (the bread).

The next letter, Nun, make a “neh” sound.  Sometimes you see one n, sometimes two.

The third letter, Vav, combined with the dot (dagesh) to its left, make an “ewe” sound, like the letter u.

The last two letters are taken together because Kaf and the vowel (kamatz) underneath it combine with the Hey at the end to make a “kah” sound.

I have my own opinion about the right way to spell Chanukah in English.  I’m sure that as you read this blog, you’ll figure out my preference.  For a pie chart on other people’s preferences, check out this link.


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