December 4, 2022

Brighton Journal

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Scrabble in crisis: 400 words banned because they were deemed offensive and controversy erupted


Popular almost all over the world, this game consists of scoring points by creating words on the board: each letter has one score (it’s very difficult to use too much) and some squares double or triple the points of the letter or word. . Meaning doesn’t count at all. Just a typo.

Until now, A general rule of Scrabble is to use any word in the dictionary. Only proper names were banned. However, after the global protests against racism that began following the death of American George Floyd, More than 400 words, including racial slurs like the “N-WORD,” have been removed from the official online Scrabble word list.What does this mean? “NIGGER”A racist name that refers to people of color, in addition to derogatory and homophobic terms.

Mattel, the owner of Scrabble, explained that the changes were intended Make the game more culturally relevant Amid global unrest.

However, Scrabble players protested the ban on “offensive” words and left the game to defend the game’s original principle.

And it’s not just slurs that are banned, some other less recognized words that have been banned have baffled and frustrated veteran players. For example, one of the undefined prohibited words is defined as “Jesuit”. “A member of the order of priests founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in 1534 to carry out missionary work”, and earns a valuable 200 points in the game.


Members of the London Scrabble League expressed their displeasure at the new rulesThis has led to “bitter feuds, broken friendships and high-profile resignations,” the columnist says. the observer, Jonathan Maitland.

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“It’s hard to find anyone in the Scrabble community who supports the ban. It does not mean that we endorse any prohibited words. Among them are some nasty racist slursMaitland said. “But words cannot cease to exist: they are part of our history, sometimes shamefully. Playing personal puns with them is very different from using them in any other context.”

Players play Scrabble at the WESPA Youth Cup 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 30, 2019.  Picture taken on November 30, 2019.  REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng
Players play Scrabble at the WESPA Youth Cup 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 30, 2019. Picture taken on November 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

When the ban was announced last year, Darryl Francissaid a well-known author of books about Scrabble who contributed to the game’s official word lists in the 1980s. “Words in dictionaries and Scrabble lists are not insults.”. “They become insulting only when used with a derogatory intent or purpose or with a certain tone and context. Words from our Scrabble list should not be removed for public relations purposes, disguised as promoting some kind of social improvement.”

Mattel hasn’t released an official list of banned words, but the online Scrabble dictionary can’t accept too many.

This move clashes with tradition, Historically, slander, libel, and generally, so-called “bad words” or slander have always been permitted. Criteria are simple: they are part of the language, In all languages. It’s a game where you win not by the elegance of the language, but by the score of each letter used.

However, the current situation has a precedent: In the 90s, the Anti-Defamation League, created to fight anti-Semitism, asked Hasbro to veto the use of anti-Semitic terms and the company agreed. But even if those words were removed from the official lexicon of the game being marketed, These restrictions did not extend to competitions due to opposition from professional competitors.

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In this case, at least for the time being, the opposition to the new blacklist could not back down.

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