Controversy over National Spelling Bee Championship Word

How do you spell...?

WRITTEN BY: Margaret Swofford
Image Source: ScrippsBee
13-year-old Arvind Mahankali won the National Spelling Bee with the word

This past Thursday, linguists began disputing with the National Spelling Bee over the winning word, “knaidel,” which young winner Arvind Mahankali successfully spelled to clinch the championship.

While the researchers at the New York-based YIVO Institute for Jewish Research haven’t completely defiled the 13-year-old’s win, they have begun a debate with Webster's Third New International Dictionary, the dictionary used as a guideline for the Spelling Bee.

Merriam-Webster, the publisher of the dictionary, insists that the spelling of “knaidel” is correct. It is the most commonly used form of the word, and it is also the original spelling of the word in Hebrew.

But the dictionary also says that the word is based off of the Yiddish word spelled, “knedyl,” which the linguists at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research believe is the true spelling.

While this controversy may seem bewildering, given that the competition is only between children, “ABC News” stated that the spelling bee is deserving of this criticism given its prominence in the lives of young students. $30,000 is up for grabs for over 11 million kids, not including the benefits of being broadcasted live.

A resolution has not been made, but all that the public can hope for is that the National Spelling Bee will build up from this dispute and use it to further benefit its hopeful participants.

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