It’s a Slang Thang, Grrl, Innit

Q, the equal-highest point-earning letter in Scrabble and one of five that appear just once, via WikiCommons

Q, the equal-highest point-earning letter in Scrabble and one of five that appear just once, via WikiCommons

A book designed to settle disputes is bound to provoke many more of them following news of the publication of its latest edition. Scrabble fans everywhere will be hotly debating the pros and cons of the latest edition of Collins Official Scrabble Words, the Scrabble Bible. The list of words includes 3000 additions that reflect common changes in English usage. Words like ‘thang’, ‘innit’ and ‘grrl’ have made it onto the list. ‘Tik’, ‘gak’ and ‘tina’ are drug-related euphemisms to have made it onto the list, as have web-related words like ‘Facebook’ and ‘Myspace’.

In a report in the Telegraph, 1993 world Scrabble champion Mark Nyman says of the Collins book, ‘'It’s like the 'bible’ really for Scrabble players. It’s what we use to avoid any major arguments. It’s fundamental, really."

The English-speaking Scrabble world is, like the Anglophone world in general, divided into two hemispheres, the west and east. The United Kingdom, Ireland, and most Commonwealth countries including Australia and India use the Collins as the go-to resource to settle contentious Scrabble words. (Several terms derived from Indian cooking, including ‘keema’, ‘alu’ and ‘aloo’ have made it into the latest Collins.) The United States refers to Webster’s dictionary, as does Canada.

A little known fact about Scrabble is that ‘scrabble’ is actually a real word - a verb referring to frantic scratching. Invented in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts and known variously as Alfapet, Funworder, Skip-A-Cross, Spelofun and Palabras Cruzadas, more than 100 million sets of Scrabble have been sold worldwide. It’s in half of homes in the UK and one in three in the US.

Other Scrabble trivia via:

  • The highest known score for a single word in competition Scrabble is 392, achieved in 1982 by. Saladin Khoshnaw for the word ‘caziques’, which means ‘Indian chief’.

  • The highest possible score, theoretically, for a single play under American tournament Scrabble rules is 1,778 points for joining eight already-played tiles to form the word ‘oxyphenbutazone’ across three triple-word-score squares, while simultaneously extending seven specific already-played words to form new words.

  • The highest score obtainable by playing a seven-letter word is ‘quartzy’ (164 points) across a triple-word-score square with the Z on a double-letter-score square.

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