Now Legal in Scrabble: Thang, Blingy and Grrl
You still can't use people's names in Scrabble — but according to the latest update of one major Scrabble dictionary, words like "Grrl" and "Innit" are just fine.
The publishers of the Collins Official Scrabble Words book have added 3,000 allowed words to the game's vocabulary, including several slang terms, tech jargon and familiar corporate names.
Facebook and Myspace are now legal in some versions of the game, as are Thang (as in "Shake that thang"), Blingy (from bling, which is a way to describe flashy jewelry) and the aforementioned "Innit" (a condensation of "Isn't it?" as in "Boy, that English degree is pretty useless now, innit?").
The Scottish publishers of the dictionary say the additions make this the "most comprehensive Scrabble wordlist ever produced." For U.S. players, though, the changes won't have much of an immediate impact.
The Collins dictionary is not sold widely in the U.S. and Canada, nor is it used in North American tournament play. So, technically, you can still challenge those words.
But the inclusion overseas means they'll likely be added domestically in the years to come, concedes John Williams, executive director of the National Scrabble Association.
"I'm sure they'll become acceptable here," he says. "We're still getting complaints about the words that were added last time ... As everything evolves and we get increasingly de-literized, I'm sure they'll find a way in."
Regardless of whether the changes currently apply here, they have divided the game's community. Some fans argue that the inclusion of slang dumbs down Scrabble considerably — and is just one-step shy of including cell phone text jargon such as "LOL" and "IMHO."
"It's sad to see the mass marketization of games defile what was once a highly regarded intellectual pastime," says Stephen Elaschuk, who has been playing board games for 20 years.
Others say the changes are a natural evolution of a game.
"People seem to forget that language is a living thing, always growing and changing," says Juan Garcia, who has been playing the game for 15 years and uses it to teach English to students in Japan. "The English I speak is different from that of my parents and grandparents, but that doesn't mean that it is incorrect or inferior ... There are many words which maybe 50 or 100 years ago were considered slang, but became so popular that young people today don't even realize that the English they grew up speaking isn't correct."
Not all of the Collins additions were quite so controversial. Some, in fact, could cheer up fans, especially those whose tile racks have a "Q" but no "U." Among the newly accepted words are "Qin" (a Chinese zther, with strings stretched across a flat box), which will earn you 12 points, while "Fiqh," an expansion of Islamic sharia law, will add 19 to your score. "Wagyu," a breed of beef cattle, was also added, as was Webzine which will score you a whopping 21 points — even without a double- or triple-word score.
This was the first update of the Collins list since 2007. And while the recent changes might turn heads, there were plenty of previously existing words that baffled people; Let's face it: "telid" and "jupon" are hardly everyday terms.
Hasbroowns the rights to Scrabble in the U.S. and Canada, while a Mattel subsidiary owns them in the rest of the world. Roughly 4 million copies of the game are still sold worldwide each year and it can be found in roughly one-third of American homes. Scrabble, however, has faced increased competition in the last few years from mobile products that mimic its gameplay, such as "Words with Friends."
The additions are just the latest in a series of plays to ensure the game doesn't become overshadowed. Official apps of the game are available in the Apple iTunes store — and a television game show dubbed "Scrabble Showdown" is in the works, set to air on the cable channel "The Hub" later this year.