Deletion of hate speechMattel, the American toy company which owns the trademark for Scrabble for most of the world (excluding North America) have stated that they intend to get rid of words which they think are hate speech. This has ramifications for Scrabble players. Here is some information to keep you in the picture. As more details are available, this page will be updated.
The announcementFrom Ray Adler, Vice President, Global Head of Games, Mattel, from their press release on 27 Jan 2021.
In Scrabble – as in life – the words we choose matter. Words have the power to strengthen, encourage and honor, but they also can be used to weaken, discourage and disrespect. Evolving the ways in which we support and stand with historically excluded communities through our brands and products has always been a top priority for Mattel, and we’ve learned from the events of last year this work must be continuous. As a family friendly brand, Mattel will be updating the official Scrabble list of playable words so our game aligns with our mission, anywhere you play. We will do this in four ways:
Scrabble is about harnessing the power of words for good, while finding and making words over equitable, fun, and fair gameplay. As language and connotations change over time, so must Scrabble, and just as we look to update the list with new words each year, we also must revisit words from the past. The removal of hate speech and definitions from the Scrabble word list is an important step for the game’s inclusive progression and we hope to engage and educate ourselves alongside our players through the actions set forth above. This will be an ongoing process, and we are committed to updating language as connotations evolve.
- Ongoing review and removal of words and definitions, including:
- Removing hate speech from the game.
- For words with multiple meanings, the definitions pertaining to hate speech will be removed.
- Updating Scrabble products published by our licensee Collins accordingly to uphold the same standards.
- Working with our mobile games developer, Scopely, to ensure removed words are not playable in the Scrabble GO mobile game, and definitions are updated to reflect the new word list.
- Updating official Scrabble instruction sheet and tournament rules, in partnership with the World English Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA).
It is not clear to what extent they consulted with Collins dictionary publishers. They certainly did not consult with the WESPA Dictionary Committee, and its members have resigned.
The response from Collins DictionaryNo public statement has been made by Collins. There are some indications that they have acceded to the demands. For instance their online Scrabble Word Checker now gives different results, despite no indication being given. Some words have been deleted and some have been redefined.
A book of the latest CSW will be published in late February 2022, and it will be the same as CSW19 except for 419 deletions.
The response from WESPA14 Aug 2020: An announcement from WESPA on the updated word list: “The new edition of Collins Scrabble Words (CSW21) will be effective for tournament play starting January 1, 2022. Any WESPA-organized events, in person or online, after that date will use the updated list. A CSW21 Initiation Kit is being prepared for distribution soon to assist players in the transition. All application developers who have licensed the Collins Scrabble Words list for use in their apps, websites, and tools have been contacted with the new list, and should complete updates before this date. Publication of a paper edition will follow at a later date. National associations should prepare implementation of the list for local events as soon as practicable after this date.”
Jan 2022 The initiation kit has been prepared but is not permitted to be publicly available. It may be available from your state ASPA.
The NASPA Zyzzyva program is available for Macintosh, Windows, Android and iOS. It includes both CSW19 and CSW21.
The response within Australia
For the foreseeable future, clubs and tournaments will continue using Collins Scrabble Words 2019. At the CASPA
AGM it was established that the decision on what word source to use will be up to individual states. The 2022
Australian Scrabble Championship has been
advertised as using CSW19.
Victoria is the only state which uses Collins Scrabble Words 2022 from Jan 1, 2022.
The extent of the revision
There has been no official list of deletions, but it is known that there are over 400 in all. It is likely that
the research for this has been done by staff at Collins Dictionary. Some sleuths have made some attempt by
trying out words at the
Collins Scrabble Word Checker.
Here is what they have found (as at 25 Apr 2021), not necessarily comprehensive, and possibly subject to change.
There appear to be four categories, ableism, racism, sexism and religious intolerance. Words which are allowable, but not
for one part of speech, are shown in italics.
Open if you dare
DARKEY, DARKIE, DARKY
GOLLIWOG, GOLLIWOGG, GOLLYWOG
GOYISCH, GOYISH, GOYISHE
HONKEY, HONKIE, HONKY
LES, LESBO, LEZ, LEZZ, LEZZA, LEZZIE, LEZZY
PICANINNY, PICCANIN, PICCANINNY, PICKNEY
(POOF n), POOFTAH, POOFTER, POOVE, POUFTAH, POUFTER
SHICKSA, SHIKSA, SHIKSE, SHIKSEH
(WHITEY n, WHITY n)
Redefined wordsThe definitions of some words have been changed so that the principal meaning has been replaced by another meaning . This sometimes has consequences for inflections and alternative forms. So for instance
homonow means homogenized milk and
gubmeans Scots word for mouth and
gubbahmeans 'white man', not 'mouth'.
poofused to be defined as a derogatory word for a homosexual man but is now defined as an exclamation indicating a sudden disappearance. This change of part of speech means that
poofsis then not allowable.
baasused to be defined as a South African word for boss but is now defined as an inflected form of
baa. This change means that
baasesis then not allowable.