Posted by: episystechpubs | December 11, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Two winter holiday considerations

Both of these holiday tidbits are from Grammar Girl at www.quickanddirtytips.com.

· "Hanukkah" or "Chanukah"?

Hanukkah begins soon, and you may be wondering why you see it spelled different ways. There are many acceptable spellings for the Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights; the name of the celebration is translated from Hebrew and there are multiple credible ways to make the translation. (It’s actually a transliteration rather than a straight translation because Hebrew and English use different alphabets.) Some acceptable spellings include Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, and Hannukah.

A word like this is a great example of why organizations need a style guide. The best way to deal with the variations is to pick a spelling and use it consistently.

· "Xmas" or "Christmas"?

Retailers have long been accused of secularizing Christmas by using "Xmas" in signs and advertisements; therefore, I suspect many of you will be surprised to learn that "Xmas" has a religious origin.

In Greek, the letter "chi" is written as an X, and chi is the first letter of the Greek word for "Christ." Greeks sometimes abbreviated "Christ" as "X." For example, they abbreviated "Christ savior" as "XP." ("P" is the symbol for the Greek letter "rho," which is the first letter of the word "savior" in Greek.) The Oxford English Dictionary shows the first known English use of "Xmas" in 1551.

As for appropriateness, "Xmas" may have a religious origin and fit better on signs, but many people—both those who use "Xmas" and those who complain about its use—are unaware of the religious origin. If you choose to use "Xmas," you should know that some people will be infuriated.

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