Tag: Scrabble

Those Wonderful German Compounds

 

Those Wonderful German Compounds, wherein your winning Scrabble words for the next six months can be found.

It’s been a long time since the fascination with German took hold and nearly as long since that language’s legendary and oft-mocked propensity to generate staggering numbers of compound words of nearly unlimited length became one of the great pleasures of my life. I love compounds and I love German compounds especially because they are so lexically transparent, so often poetic and sometimes even linguistically efficient. Let’s take some simple examples, like the ones that got me started:

The Power of Words: ‘I Can’t Get Enough Words!’

 

My older cousin Rosetta was off to college when I was still in knickers. My aunt said she was brilliant, finishing high school and college early. She went on to teach school in New Jersey for thirty years. I only saw her on holidays and a few vacations at her dad’s cottage in Butler, PA.

We recently began to talk by phone after all these years. She still has the same musical voice. Even on a serious topic, she sounds melodic. Her voice is clear and concise, no stutters, sputters or slang, and it’s also a link to the familiar. When I hear it, our deceased relatives pop up in my mind, laughing around a feast of turkey, stuffed cabbage and homemade pumpkin pie, or the sound of cards being shuffled, knocking on the table and the scent of cherry pipe tobacco.

One year she came for a holiday dinner. Her hair was long and blonde, and she wore a dark blue velvet mini-dress. “Hi Uncle Will and Aunt Mary!” she exclaimed. I was dressed in fringed bell bottom jeans, a silly t-shirt and wore a floppy yellow hat with a peace sign to hide my pimply 7th grade face. My Uncle Al practically boxed my ears upon arrival. A devout Catholic, he hollered that the “peace sign” was the cross upside down, a mockery! Those ‘words’ delivered a verbal punch. I quickly yanked my hat off embarrassed, but all I remember thinking was, I want to grow up looking like Rosetta.

Scrabble Skirmish: Them’s Fightin’ Words

 

shutterstock_133761986Language is a peculiar thing. Growing up, we often heard the admonition, “we will speak the King’s English in this house.” Which of course as a young lad, never made much sense to me, given that there was a queen ruling Great Britain, and we were Americans anyway. But I digress.

Nowhere was this more important than in the violent sorties over our treasured Scrabble board. Slang, or “street” vernacular was not allowed. Put a word down, and it better be in the American Heritage dictionary, or in the Oxford if we happened to have one handy. You play the best words you can, the cheap ones only as a pitiful, desperate last resort. If that means you have letter tiles at the end of the game you cannot play, so be it. Suck it up and count the points, boy.

But now we have the Internet, and digital versions of the game on our Facebook, our smart phones, tablets, and wherever else they may be found. Now we have a certified Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, which includes what I purport to be absolutely bogus, false, fraudulent, spurious “words” simply designed to allow a player to dump all his tiles. People who play this way may think they look “smart” using these so-called words, but to me it suggests precisely the opposite.