March 15, 2014
Hasbro To Update Scrabble Vocabulary, At Last
I may be one of the few people who didn’t play Scrabble much growing up. So for me the image of the word game remains stuck in time — from the few times I played as a kid. While many people have played some heated games of Scrabble all through the years, many believe that the dictionary of “legal” words for the game is also somewhat stuck in time.
Recently, the Washington Post said the game suffers from “outdatedness.” The article claims that while the Oxford Dictionaries updates every year, and that Merriam-Webster has a team of people to track modern word usage to update their volumes, Scrabble hasn’t changed its edition since 2005 – and we believe the changes at that point may have been few.
The Official SCRABBLE Dictionary will be updated by Merriam-Webster for the first time in nine years with thousands of new words. Before the volume goes to press, Hasbro plans to have a Scrabble Word Showdown, where fans of the game can propose and vote on words, and the winner will be added with those thousands of new words.
“The Scrabble Word Showdown will let fans nominate and vote on words that are fun and relevant for today’s players,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, vice president of marketing at Hasbro, in a corporate statement. “We are excited to see which word rises to the top and makes its way into The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.”
The Washington Post article complains that while the two letter “za” is an acceptable word for pizza, the far older “OK”, short for okay is actually not on the list of acceptable vocabulary.
Scrabble, Za and other newer and lesser-used words were the topic of a recent Grammar Girl post. It’s interesting that she notes the game rules:
“All words labeled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin, and as archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: words always capitalized, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone, [and] words requiring a hyphen or an apostrophe.”
The rules actually explain the neglect of “OK,” as it is actually an abbreviation. But the rules state that slang is OK, as well as newer and more casually used terms. This would pave the way for common terms of today, such as “selfie,” which became the word of the year last year when it entered the Oxford dictionary, or app. While many people wish “selfie” wasn’t an accepted word — in Scrabble or just in common conversation — you can now plunk down your tiles to score with the word. The word “hashtag” is also now in the Scrabble dictionary, even though it’s not in the dictionary for Microsoft WORD (neither is selfie).
“Our language changes faster than ever today,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. “It’s great to include a word in the new edition that dedicated Scrabble players are eager to use on the board.”
Image Credit: Hasbro