Posted on May 10, 2011

Now Thang Is a Good Scrabble Word, Innit

Daily Mail (London), May 9, 2011

Perhaps it will tempt youngsters to take up stimulating board games.

Or maybe the latest version of the ‘Scrabble Bible’ will simply prompt more blazing rows between seasoned players.

Street slang terms including thang, grrl and innit are among almost 3,000 additions to the Collins Official Scrabble Words reference guide, which sees its latest edition released today.

Drug nicknames such as gak, tik and tina, as well as Indian cookery terms keema, gobi and alu–or aloo–are now permissible in the game, as are internet phrases wiki and myspace.

Robert Groves, editor of Collins English Dictionaries and the word list, last updated in 2007, said: ‘These additions are an eclectic mix of new technological jargon, overseas English, recent colloquialisms, street slang, and a few fairly well-established phrases that had not made it on to the list until now.

‘Over half of British homes own a Scrabble board, more than four million games are sold worldwide each year, and nearly anyone who has played it has been involved in a dispute over which words can and can’t be used.

‘Now all those arguments can be settled, with the latest official wordlist from Collins–the authority on Scrabble.’ The Glasgow-based team compiling the list did so with the help of Collins Corpus, the world’s largest language database of written and spoken English.

Mr Groves added: ‘It is the essential reference for all Scrabble players, from tournament enthusiasts to families battling it out in their front rooms.’

Although traditionalists may cringe at some of the additions, Mark Nyman, a four-time world Scrabble champion, agreed that Collins’ decision was final.

‘When words become commonly used it’s representative and makes sense to include these in this reference book,’ he said. ‘It’s like the Bible for Scrabble players. It’s what we use to avoid any major arguments. It’s fundamental.’

15 responses to “Now Thang Is a Good Scrabble Word, Innit”

  1. Vito Danelli says:

    I would bet that the only reason these words were included in the Scrabble dictionary was to encourage the people that use these words to become Scrabble players and increase market share of the game.

    There’s even a Spanish edition of Scrabble for sale on the Hasbro website. I would love to know the unit sales of that item.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now that gang lingo and drug words are acceptable in Scrabble, Scrabble is no longer acceptable in my home.

  3. Girlish says:

    I wonder if someone using “thang” in a tournament would be frowned upon? Hopefully. They want make the game totally trashy now.

  4. noneknown says:

    “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper”.

  5. Istvan says:

    Isn’t this how Latin became vulgarized at the end of the Roman Empire and thus evolved into Italian, French, Spanish, etc.? American English is becoming vulgarized at the end of the American Empire. What was spoken in 1900 will have little in common with what will be spoken in 2200.

  6. Bill R says:

    As one poster says, yes, this may have something to do with increasing sales. But if so, it’s based on the same erroneous policies of the education system: that if you degrade education, you can entice completely disinterested blacks to take an interest in education. Hasn’t happened, has it? All that has happened is that education has been degraded for everybody else down to the disinterested black level. Same thing here.

    Add in a bunch of words coined by gang bangers, illiterates, I pod texters, and blacks and hope that draws blacks into playing scrabble, in the hopes blacks might actually learn a few words and meanings and become somewhat more literate. Won’t happen.

    All they have done for Scrabble is the same that they have done to education – destroyed the game and made it completely outside the pale for anybody literate, intelligent, and with a normal or higher IQ. Blacks won’t play it. Whites will drop it and seek some other intellectually stimulating board game. Every attempt, in every venue and endeavor, to appeal to or include blacks destroys that endeavor, culture, society or venue. Every one. With Obama pushing for blacks and Muslims to be included in NASA I expect in a generation the average man will be able to pee further than we can fire a rocket.

  7. HH says:

    This can come as no surprise to anyone here. Already, media talking-heads and personalities regularly pepper their conversation with ghetto-speak, proudly using terms like, “booty, bling, gangsta,” etc., and mainstreaming ghetto phenomena from “pimps to ho’s!” I literally cringe whenever I see and hear some otherwise educated, sensible White man or women use such disgraceful language – gleefully lowering themselves to urban dwellers, in the never-ending effort to glorify the Blacks.

  8. Spirit Wolf says:

    Oh, that’s rubbish. The rule was always “no slang”, and everyone I’ve ever played with left it at that. If a word didn’t have a more traditional meaning, it couldn’t be used.

    Of course, I guess Hasbro never came across the concept of “house rules”. This is where players agree what rules to change to suit themselves. I’m sure people have been allowing all sorts of slang for decades now; there was no reason to dumb down the rules and change them.

    The thing is, they also added in specifically non-English words. While “igloo” might be a common enough word amongst English speakers (at least those of us here in Canada) the East Indian words above, well, never heard of ’em. I wouldn’t allow them, any more than I would allow the words “nanuk” or even “chien” – the word must be an accepted part of the English (or whatever lingo you play in) language (even if those other languages are official in all or part of your country, hah).

    Basically, they’re throwing up their hands at the decline in English language literacy, and saying “OK, anything goes.” Otherwise, it will increasingly be seen as some sort of elitist game for geeky white brainiacs who can actually speak or spell properly. You all know what happens after that – it gets called a “racist” game, and Hasbro has to discontinue it. OR, everyone stops buying it – including the whites, whose own literacy has declined thanks to the way the schools are now (are there any white kids left in Toronto schools?) and then the game goes into the dustbin of gaming history anyway.

    So, instead of keeping the official rules the way they are, and hoping people have the sense to use them or not as they see fit, they felt they had to openly pander.

  9. sbuffalonative says:

    I have sat in at a meeting at which someone invariably suggests ‘reaching out to minorities’ for a wider customer base.

    ‘Why don’t we market in Spanish to the Hispanic community. After all, they’re the fastest growing minority’, someone inevitably says. Everyone in the room, other than me, reacts like it’s the greatest idea they ever heard.

    As with politics, businesses have their base customers. In order to grow market share, they have attract new customers so the out-reach programs, pandering, and altering basic principles begins.

    Scrabble is deemed a stogy old game. Scrabble becomes more ‘vibrant’ and ‘inclusive’. Conservative players are dismayed and left without recourse but to play the new game or not at all.

  10. Bon, From the Land of Babble says:

    Street slang terms including thang, grrl..Drug nicknames such as gak, tik and tina

    When words become commonly used it’s representative and makes sense to include these in this reference book,’

    What a reflection and indictment of our culture that street slang terms and drug words are now “commonly used.”


  11. ctpuckett says:

    Perhaps I am wrong, but isn’t at least one aspect of Scrabble supposed to help with word development? Seems counterproductive to dumb down the game so that it will be executable to a larger market. Furthermore, does this not encourage well spoken children to throw out there education and language skills to get extra points?

    I will never buy this game for my daughter.

  12. Orion Blue says:

    Linguistics would inevitably become a major set-piece battle in the long march through the institutions.

    This is really a story about seceding rights and legitimacy to the emergent counter-culture.

    Noam Chomsky, that radical revolutionary, is a linguist and the manipulation of language to legitimate the take-over should be seen as a given.

    Replacing high culture with low and justifying it via moral relativism seems to be an ongoing battle.

  13. Spirit Wolf says:

    #12 – Noam Chomsky was so upset at the idea that apes were actually doing well at using American Sign Language to communicate with humans more or less at our own level, that he went out and redefined what language is. His redefinition not only managed to kick apes out of the Temple of Language, but he also kicked out human children younger than 5, and presumably, the speaking-but-profoundly-retarded amongst us.

    Just a bit of trivia, I guess, but I think of this every time something comes out of his mouth.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Although traditionalists may cringe at some of the additions, Mark Nyman, a four-time world Scrabble champion, agreed that Collins’ decision was final.

    ‘When words become commonly used it’s representative and makes sense to include these in this reference book,’ he said. ‘It’s like the Bible for Scrabble players. It’s what we use to avoid any major arguments. It’s fundamental.”

    Traditionalists are the only reliable customer base for Scrabble. If they keep this ghetto stuff up in the “official” Collins Scrabble dictionary – the traditional Scrabble circle will simply define or create a new Scrabble “Bible”.

  15. diversity = adversity says:

    Notice how a ‘fundemental’ text is referred to as a bible? I wonder if there is Arabic Scrabble with a ‘quran’ of acceptable words. This change of Scrabble rules is a blatant attempt to destroy not only the game, but the English language. Everyone remember that shrinking newspeak dictionary part in 1984? That linguist guy ended up ‘disappear’ed. Yes, if they didn’t it would become regarded as a ‘raciss’ game. I never played it much before, but I will set the rules next time I play and I certainly won’t be allowing anything other than English of Old(c.500-1100ad.) and Middle(c.1100-1500ad.) and Early Modern(c.1500-1900ad.), as well as some Cajun Francais. I note with offense that the Hasbro site cares more about Spanish speakers than Francophone Cajuns that have been here for 400+ yrs.

    I am learning Old English, self-taught, from Bright’s Old English Grammar and Reader. Even my 1971 edition has liberal leanings, but easy to ignore. I plan to save both my languages, by being a linguist better than Noam Chomsky. I can’t let him have the field all to his opinions! I want to wright science fiction, as well as dual Cajun and English schoolbooks.