Mattel me it isn’t so

I would have written an impassioned piece about Mattel’s plans to introduce a version of Scrabble that permits the use of proper nouns.  By the time my smelling salts took effect, all the good puns and analogies had already been played.

The story has gone viral, so there isn’t much to add.  All I have to share here are a few questions based narrowly on Mattel’s rationale. 

Reportedly, the company believes relaxing the rules will encourage younger consumers to play Scrabble.  Presumably, being able to turn ore into Oreo will attract kids to the board. 

If this is true:

Will Mattel next introduce a version that accepts the spelling conventions of instant messaging?  (That wouldn’t do much to boost a Triple Word Score.) 

What about the fact that many twenty-somethings, and young corporations for that matter, appear to have abandoned the upper case altogether, even in their own names?  Will those names be deemed legal in conventional Scrabble?

What about all those made-up names and inventive spellings?

For those who fear the invasion of this diluted version of their favorite word game, take comfort in knowing the so-called Scrabble Trickster won’t be sold in the United States any time soon.  Mattel does not own the rights to sell Scrabble in North America and will offer Trickster only in the United Kingdom for the time being; hence, you can play as you do now within U.S. borders.   But players hoping to turn mile into Miley here at home are out of luck.  Hasbro, which owns the Scrabble rights in the U.S. market, has no plans to legalize proper nouns in this country.

Consider this:  Perhaps proper nouns will be extinct before American Scrabble players ever face this scenario.

Note:  Word Nymph takes Sundays off.  Tomorrow she’ll be giving her Scrabble Deluxe Edition a little love.  See you Monday.


Filed under All Things Wordish

2 responses to “Mattel me it isn’t so

  1. Dennis Jones

    As there is no real limit on what can become a proper noun, it’s a wonder that Mattel would open up this can of worms. Maybe they want Scrabble as we know it become a has-been. That said, imagine if you could turn HAS into HASBRO, and help us with any company that has the name XYZ.

    Enjoy your love in on Sunday.

  2. dbw

    According to one person I heard on the radio, the real payoff for Mattel will be the publication and sale of new and/or expanded “official” Scrabble dictionaries. I suspect that proper nouns are being introduced into English at a much faster rate than other words, and Scrabble dictionary users might be forced to buy new editions each year just to keep up.

    (Personally, I have no problem with introducing proper nouns into Scrabble as long as they are restricted to geographic names or the names of American oboists.)

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