It can be a real buzzkill to find that your high-scoring word such as webzine or texter has been disallowed in a game of Scrabble.
But there’s no need to dump the board game and head to the funplex with your friends (or frenemies) instead. The 66-year-old game has been given an update for Generation Y.
The fifth edition of the Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary, published by Merriam Webster, includes around 5,000 new words.
The editors’ aim is to make sure that the game stays relevant and keeps up with the changing English language. It lists around 100,000 playable words.
New entries include bromance, hashtag, vodcast, vlog, beatbox, dubstep (a type of electronic dance music) and of course selfie – the Oxford Dictionaries 2013 Word of the Year. The word geocache (an outdoor treasure hunt game) was added following a vote by Scrabble fans.
Some commentators might be surprised that mixtape has only just made it into the mix, when the word first became popular in the 1980s.
Traditionalists might argue that many of the new words reflect passing fads, and haven’t yet proved their staying power.
Will anyone be talking about bromances or vlogs in 66 years’ time?
But on the other hand these words are commonly used in everyday speech, making their way into newspaper columns as well as social media.
The fact that the English language is continually changing, with new words coined or adopted from other languages, is one reason linguistics is so fascinating.
Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large for Merriam-Webster, said: “Language is constantly evolving and new words are added to Merriam-Webster dictionaries on an ongoing basis.
“Now thousands of those words can officially be played on the Scrabble game board, as long as they meet the Scrabble game’s criteria for length and styling.”
Of course, it’s not just English that is evolving. Professional translators are always looking to ensure their vocabularies are up to date, and keeping up with changes in usage in their languages.
They’re also careful to choose the right words to fit the context. Frenemy and chillax are perfectly fine on a social media site or a website aimed at teenagers or students – but clearly less acceptable in a business document!
A large and up-to-date vocabulary can be the key to getting the style and tone of voice just right –as well as winning a game of Scrabble.
Of course, real enthusiasts of the board game will be most excited by the addition of more two-letter words such as te – the seventh note on the musical scale. And did you know qajaq is a variant spelling of kayak? Now just try getting that on a triple word score!