Thursday, December 14, 2006

Of Words and Spelling

Most of my adult life I've wanted the Official Scrabble Dictionary. I had visions of an entire new source of words to play the game, words that normally wouldn't fly but "it's in the Scrabble dictionary!" I finally purchased a paperback version during a sale at my campus bookstore. Words I discovered were in there like "zzz", meaning the sound you make when snoring. I figured "ss" should be in there for the sound made by a snake, but it wasn't. Strike one. Then Paul found a word that was spelled incorrectly. INCORRECT SPELLING OF A WORD IN A DICTIONARY. A scrabble dictionary, published by Merriam Webster. How could I trust it now? How? I could not. Strike 2. I'm playing 2-strike baseball.

I brought the book back to the Western Washington University bookstore where I'd picked it up for under $7. Brenda, the self-described "walking dictionary" behind the counter, wanted to know which word it was. And anyone reading this probably does too. The word was lagniappe. The scrabble dictionary spelled it without the "i". It's not even an alternate spelling. It's a mistake. Oddly the Merriam Webster full version had it spelled correctly. Are these even the same publishers? Is this some Brazilian version that's snuck it's way into the US market?

The current dictionary I own was purchased for college, which was decades ago. I'm sure it's completely out of date, as language evolves with cultural changes and new discoveries. How many new species of reptiles have been discovered over the past 20 years? How many of them are now useful high-scoring Scrabble words?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Serves you right for violating the compact.

Snicker, snicker. Ouch, I can laugh.

12:15 PM  
Blogger ambient lighting said...

It's a health issue. Mental health ;)

1:58 PM  

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