Thursday, February 11, 2016

Head Of The NSA

I just read Word Nerd by John D. Williams Jr., former executive director of the National Scrabble Association.  I'm a big fan of the game and was looking forward to it, but the book didn't live up to my expectations.  Much better--a classic, really--is Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis, published over a decade ago.

Word Freak takes us into the world of Scrabble (still a trademarked name), both the game and the personalities wrapped up in it.  On the other hand, Word Nerd is written like a corporate brochure--full of stilted language, clichés and punchlines without much punch.   Williams worked for decades as the game's spokesperson, and he still seems to be doing public relations, which makes the book more innocuous than entertaining.

It makes sense, then, that Williams was the guy who removed offensive words from the official Scrabble dictionary when pressure groups got to Hasbro.  He doesn't seem to feel bad about it, but I don't see how anyone could be happy.  Scrabble is a game based on words in dictionaries.  It makes no moral judgment about these words.  In fact, once Williams started removing some of the words* it meant that Scrabble was, for the first time, making value judgments.  So if you find anything in the official dictionary that you think offensive, Hasbro is saying "screw you, you're wrong."

Still, if you like SCRABBLE, you might as well check out the book. Some useful background information, and some nice lists in the back.

*He reproduces the entire list in the appendix, and it includes stuff like ARSE, BADASS, BAZOOMS, BOFFED, BOLLOCKS, BUBBA, COJONES, FART, FATSO, FRIGGING, FUBAR, GOY, HONKY, JESUIT, JOHNSON, LIBBER, NOOKIE, PAPIST, PISSANT, POM, POO, REDNECK, SHICKSA, SPAZ, STIFFIE, TOMMING, TURD, WANKER, WAZOO and WILLIE.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesuit?

3:59 AM, February 11, 2016  

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