Thursday, April 10, 2014

What’s in a Word

I read recently that Pawtucket Rhode Island’s own Hasbro -  maker of such classics as Lincoln Logs and Mr. Potato Head, toys-come-lately like Furbies, as well as gamesters who bring us half the board games you can think of  - is reaching out via social media to update some of their games.

For one thing, they’re asking for play-ahs to suggest rule changes to Monopoly. Soliciting suggestions for new rules shouldn’t be all that hard, as there can’t be three people on the face of the earth who ever played Monopoly who didn’t make up their own rules at some point. Most of those rules were ad hoc, of course, and situation-dependent. Do you want to speed up the game because there’s no end in sight? Keep the game going by keeping players from folding? Help your pals (or the little kids) out with under the table, no interest loans?

Let’s face it, nothing could spoil a game of Monopoly faster than someone invoking the real rules.

It will be interesting to see what vox populi comes up with here.

I was certainly not impressed by the popularity contest decision to jettison the flat iron game piece in favor of a cat. I am personally opposed to replacing an iconic, historic, token-of-my-childhood with anything, let alone with a cat, of all things. But I suspect that cat fanciers have been lobbying for a cat piece since the Scottie dog debuted in the 1950’s. But replacing the flat iron….Have you no sense of decency, you Facebook Monopoly voters?

It’s not just Monopoly that Hasbro is looking to crowdsource. They’re also asking for words to add to the approved Scrabble lexicon.

For a word person, I was always pretty indifferent to the charms of Scrabble. Maybe it’s because I came of game-playing age in the house of weird, in which we had a low-end version of Scrabble called Keyword. (Of course, the fact that we also had the low-rent version of Monopoly, a game called Easy Money, didn’t stop me from adapting to Monopoly, which our family eventually owned.)

Anyway, I played some Scrabble over the years, but never as a blood sport. There were rarely any fights over whether a word would count, and those that did occur were settled by someone grabbing Merriam Webster. Who knew or cared what Scrabble officialdom had to say?

From my vantage point, for word games, give me Boggle, any old day.

But I do acknowledge that there are legions of serious Scrabble players, for whom a word must be blessed in order to count.

So, recognizing that languages grow and mutate over time, the makers of Scrabble are reaching out to its fans to figure out what to add to the lexicon.

Here’s a look at the words that have made the Sweet Sixteen.


Well, this certainly tells me that I am a completely out of touch old fogey.


Wazzup with me that I was not familiar with this one. Which, by the way, I think is an extraordinarily grand word. This generation’s version of what we used to call a lucky duck, with the era-appropriate monetary overlay.

Booyah is was familiar with, and, while I have used it, I don’t quite get it, as booing anything doesn’t sound like it’s all that good.

Next bracket down, I had never heard the word phablet (big-arse phone that looks like it’s a tablet), but it’s a good one. What I’m unclear of if this is kind of a cool thing – like those big-arse baseball caps that I despise – or whether it’s an uncool thing, almost as embarrassing as having a non-smartphone. (And speaking of embarrassing, there’s also a sexual meaning – thanks Urban Dictionary for your help with all these words – which I’m sure that the gray-haired ladies and gents playing Scrabble will ignore.) 

And I hadn’t heard the word emotypo, either. Rather than a word for a mistyped emotion – like putting the smiley ) in a frownie ( direction – I’d rather see a word for the texting howlers that appear if you don’t check what you’re texting. (For whatever reason, when I type the word “what” it “autocorrects” to ebay. (Huh?))

Moving right along, how can zen not be in the dictionary already? Or is what’s at play here is zen moving down the word chain from a Proper Noun to an uncapped everyday word?

Woot apparently comes from Dungeons and Dragons. And/or hackers. ‘Nuf said. Other than to say it means “woohoo.”

I finish out the left hand brackets in good shape, thanks to having two bestie, adorbs teenage nieces.

Moving right along, I have never heard the word hangry, but I have, at times in my life, experienced something approaching it. Maybe not angry-angry about being hungry, but being annoyed because, say, we hadn’t yet made the dining out decision for the evening.

Nowish I can see my self using. When? Nowish.

I don’t retweet, but I know all about it.

As for ew, I much prefer the eww spelling. (Take that, Scrabble-istas.)

Bitcoin hurts my head; and geocache would, too, I suppose. But probably not as much as bitcoin. (Geocache is something to do with using GPS to orienteer, which seems kind of cheater-pantsy to me.)

Cosplay stands for costume play, which is what sci-fi and anime fans do. (I was actually hoping it was co-splay, as when two folks simultaneously, say, splay their fingers. But what do I know. Nothing about anime, that’s for sure.)

We could all use a few lifehacks, i.e., “tools or techniques that make some aspect of one's life easier or more efficient.”

One of mine is turning off the Red Sox when they’re behind by more than six ones. Definitely makes life easier.

Anyway, Scrabblers will be weighing in on their choices.

I vote (metaphorically) for luckbox, lifehack, bestie, and ew/eww.

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