Sunday, June 03, 2012

The arrogance of English

I was reading about a cruise ship, the Queen Mary perhaps. A guest wanted to play Scrabble, so from the games room, they picked up a Scrabble set. The box said Scrabble, so wasn't that all they needed to know? Apparently not. Too my astonishment, Scrabble comes in languages other than English. The guest had picked up a set of German Scrabble, which has a lot more 'a' letters and some tiles with circumcisions  circumlutions those funny things over the top of letters.

I am not sure what shocks me more, that you can get Scrabble in other languages, or that I assumed Scrabble was only ever in English.

I might be able to construct a word or two in a French version, but I will pass on the Chinese Scrabble, thank you very much.

25 comments:

  1. The most arrogant Anglo Saxon person I ever heard was a survivor of the Italian ship, Costa Concordia, that sank off the coast of Tuscany in January this year.

    She and her husband were waiting in the mustering area, ready to get into the life boats. They had waited half an hour already and were bored and cranky. She grabbed a crewman and demanded to be allowed to go back to the cabin to wait, and the poor arsehole answered her in Italian. She was outraged that he could not, or would not speak to her in English.

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  2. Hels, slightly more arrogant than the captain. How very dare he be an Italian in Italy and not speak English.

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  3. It's like Monopoly I suppose, available world-wide in whatever language you speak.

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  4. I will die a happy old codger if and when I find a fluent Swahili Meccano set.

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  5. The word you're searching for is umlaut.

    Andrew, I actually have a German Scrabble set, and it's no fun.

    In English, we can sneakily add an "s", an "ed" or "ly" to build on someone else's work, and claim the points from their letters. That's part of the malicious fun of Scrabble, and it irritates wordy types to learn that Scrabble is not won by the player with the biggest vocabulary, but by the player with the most cunning.

    When you try to extend a word in German, too many words change in the middle. For example, to change the verb "I stop" into "I stopped", it would change from "halte" to "hielte".

    Further, words in German simply take more letters. I often write in English for translation into German. The rule of thumb is that the character count will go up by 15-20%.

    Maybe German Scrabble would work better if the board were bigger, and we had more tiles.

    But not as many tiles as Chinese Scrabble would require. At last count, several thousand, and sentences would intersect rather than words.

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  6. Good chuckle, thanks Lord S.

    Scrabble's an excruciating game at the best of times.

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  7. At Christmas time, we treated ourselves to four days in Wengen, right at the 'top' of Switzerland.

    Club Med there was a combination of French, German and Italian speaking guests and in the evening between recovering from skiing and dinner being served, would sit in the lounge with a drink and a game. Our Scrabble sets were in Italian.

    I'm not entirely sure how the variations in the numbers of vowels turned out because my skill level in Scrabble is pitiful in any language!

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  8. River, is it really? Next thing you will tell me is that there is a set with Colonel Light Square on the board.

    LS, Swahili nuts turn the opposite way onto bolts, compared to the Aussie sets we know.

    HH, the word I was searching for was similar in sound to what I crossed out, but yes, not the German accent umlaut thingie. German Scrabble sounds very serious and mind numbing. I am pleased I only wasted school time on French and not German. We actually had a choice to learn high or low German. Japanese is a bit simpler than Chinese, so maybe a Japanese Scrabble set might be better.

    FC, encourage my witticisms, not that old bloke's turgid memory rehashes.

    Oh Kath, voluble Italians playing Scrabble sounds like a nightmare. While my vocab is ok, I am not good at Scrabble either. Boredom sets in quickly.

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  9. The most arrogant people are the French. They hate the English. The Jews hate the English too. Consider the two world wars last century; if the English are arrogant they've earned the right.

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  10. In California nearly everything is in Spanish. We have found a ipad app called Bookworm and its a type of scrabble game. We are addicted.

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  11. Anonymous11:51 pm

    I love Scrabble and regularly play it online. Not sure about a Japanese version though - you'd need 3 different sets of 'letters'. Of course, you could also play it using Romanji. Then you'd only need a set of English letters! V.

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  12. Umlaut is also called: diaeresis. My last name has an umlaut / trema / diaeresis on top of the "o". Abroad, except in Germany/Switseland, I don't use it, most people don't even know where to find it on a computer.

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  13. I can't do crosswords or play scrabble they are beyond me i guess i just don't have the knack :-).

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  14. RH, it is said about the French. Given how many English people are Jewish, I am not sure about that part.

    Diane, I have heard of Bookworm. Wonder if there is an Android app. Still, I ought not spend any more time with techie things. The Latin Americans have a very high profile there I guess.

    V, at least online there would be no peeking at your opponent's tiles. Romanji is English characters for Japanese?

    Peter, you are right about that. I would know where to find it. I don't even know where the French accent is a keyboard, except Blogger automatically inserts it into cafe. Clearly not in comments though, only posts.

    Windsmoke, I am ok at crosswords but pretty hopeless at scrabble. I get bored with it.

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  15. It's from personal experience, I've travelled more than you.

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  16. 'pretty hopeless at scrabble. I get bored with it.'

    What?! So you haven't discovered Strip Scrabble then.

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  17. Oh, my Lord, what have I missed!

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  18. LS, positively yawn making. Well, depends who you might be playing with.

    Peter, just don't think about a family game of Scrabble.

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  19. You've caught me out, I really don't know about multilingual monopoly. I just know that there is an American version that has different place names from the English ones we use. I've heard there's an Australian version, but I've never seen one, so can't verify.
    Scrabble is fun, we never bothered to keep score, just used the game as a way to help the kids learn to read and spell, we'd get out all three boards sometimes and play right across the table. I like crosswords too.

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  20. Lordy River, three boards! I guess Scrabble is quite educational. Try getting a kid now away from their tech devices to play Scrabble now would be pushing the proverbial uphill.

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  21. I'm surprised you didn't mention Hebrew and Arabic scrabble boards which have to be printed in reverse to accommodate the right to left script.

    Only kidding!!!

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  22. It's such fun coming into a discussion a little late, j'adore le comment of le Honourable Husband, tres informative! We used to play so many boardgames when the kids were young, not so much these days, but scrabble was a favouite, in Australian haha!

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  23. Errr, yes Victor, I think.

    Grace, I suppose Scrabble was around when I was a kid, but I never saw it until I was older.

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  24. Strip Scrabble sounds like a cross between hangman and Twister! Perhaps the word you seek of which you speak is the (French?) circumflex??

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  25. That's it Red. I knew it was circum something.

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