Sam Richardson, publisher at Chambers, which used to produce the game’s official dictionary, says there’s always pressure to include new words purely for their usefulness in Scrabble. But the dictionaries always stand firm until a word has wider useage, he says.There is one major difference between a Scrabble dictionary and a conventional English dictionary. Once a word gets into the Scrabble Dictionary, it never drops out. “Scrabble players don’t like to unlearn words,” says Elaine Higgleton, publisher at Collins, which produces the current Scrabble Dictionary. The exception is for words mistakenly included. One such was “pH”, Higgleton says. It used to be there because it didn’t start with a capital and hence couldn’t be classed as a proper noun. But in the 1990s it was taken out when someone realised it was an abbreviation, she says.Players often learn lists of words, paying no heed to meaning. Some of the world’s best Scrabble players are Thai and can’t speak English. An article in Slate even suggested that understanding English is a disadvantage at the very top level of the game.Purists may bridle at obscure words being thrown around by players who have no inkling what they mean. But there’s nothing to stop part-time players using house rules, says Higgleton. Rule one might be, whosover places tiles on the sacred board, must be able to provide a ballpark definition of said word. It’ll sort the banduras from the banditos.
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