Tuesday, July 05, 2022

War of words: Scrabble players are being censored

For some of us, world war has already broken out. Since 1 January, when a decision to ban 419 ‘offensive’ Scrabble words became ‘law’ on the orders of game owners Hasbro and Mattel, the previously genteel world of competitive Scrabble has become riven with hostility.

The conflict started three years ago when the North American Scrabble Players Association polled its members about the issue. After more than 1,000 ‘passionate responses’, it decided to inflict a word cull. According to the association’s head John Chew, the 91-year-old game needed to be ‘more inclusive’: ‘How can we tell prospective members they can only play with us if they accept that offensive slurs have no meaning when played on a board?’

But the ban on hundreds of words has left many players – particularly my fellow travellers in the London Scrabble league – seething. There have been bitter spats, ruptured friendships and high-profile resignations. Author Darryl Francis quit the World English-Language Scrabble Players’ Association in protest, saying: ‘Words in dictionaries and Scrabble lists are not slurs. They only become slurs if used with a derogatory purpose or intent or used with a particular tone and context. Words in our Scrabble lists should not be removed for PR purposes disguised as promoting some kind of social betterment.’

Those who aren’t resigning or arguing are moaning incessantly. And not just because the diktat has robbed them of some useful high-scoring words such as bufty, gammat and lubra. All three have now been deemed capable of causing offence, even though most people have no idea what they mean.

Because that is competitive Scrabble’s no. 1 trade secret: to succeed, you often use words whose meaning you don’t know. There are approximately 180,000 legitimate words – compared with the average person’s knowledge of 50,000 – and it is impossible to know the definition of them all.

Lubra, it turns out, is an outdated term for an Aboriginal woman and is considered offensive. I am glad I know that now, and I respect the fact that it causes offence. However, misusing it in conversation is one thing, but placing those five letters on a board is another. Gammat, by the way, refers to the accent of Cape Coloured people, and bufty is Scots slang for gay.



My other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)



Stan B said...

The perpetually offended will not be satisfied until they scrub every English word from the "approved list," and for those in charge who hope to appease them by giving them an inch learned nothing from that poofter Chamberlain.

Anonymous said...

Stan B,

They won't be satisfied even the and THEY THEMSELVES will never stop using the words, it's only the "lesser mortals" who are to be castigated for daring to use a word that's reserved for their use. Their hatred of everything and everyone requires those words after all. The perfect example is the "N" word, their songs are populated with it and it hangs in their speech like ornaments but let it pass your lips and the world will end, for you.