When 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 30, it wasn’t without a bit of controversy. Arvind took the trophy by correctly spelling the word “knaidel.” A knaidel is a matzoh ball or dumpling.
However, there is confusion as to how the word is actually spelled. The word is in Yiddish, which uses a non-Roman alphabet, according to the Atlantic Wire. As such, there is no standardized English translation.
The spelling used for the competition is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which claims that “knaidel” is the most commonly used version. However, other spellings include “kneydl,” “kneidel” and even “knadel.” The YIVO institute for Jewish Research, considered by many an authoritative source, believes the proper spelling is “kneydl.”
Arvind won’t lose his trophy over the controversy. Perhaps the words will be chosen a bit more carefully next time, though.