An Indian-American boy won a national spelling contest after correctly spelling a Yiddish-derived word. Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday by spelling the word “knaidel,” a traditional Jewish dumpling. Mahankali beat out ten other finalists in the competition, held in Oxon Hill, Md.
However, The New York Times reported on Saturday that some experts have challenged the spelling of the dumpling, insisting it is spelled "kneydl." This spelling, the paper wrote, was determined by linguists at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, "the organization based in Manhattan recognized by many Yiddish speakers as the authority on all things Yiddish."
However, the Times added that there was no danger of Mahankali being stripped of his prize money - $30,000 in cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster and $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica. "The spelling contest… relies not on YIVO linguists but on Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, and that is what contestants cram with," a bee spokesman was quoted as saying.
Vocabulary.com, which covered the bee, described knaidel as coming from “German-derived Yiddish.” It quoted Mahankali as telling ESPN, “the German curse has turned into the German blessing.”