The Scrabble dictionary

Jul 10, 2015

Somewhere in my childhood reading I learnt what you had to do if you were caught in the snow. You piled up a dome of snow with a hollow centre, crawled inside it and sealed up the dome. Then your own breath and body heat and the insulation of the snow kept you warm. But you had to remember to leave a hole for oxygen or else you would go to sleep and never wake up. I learnt all this quite solemnly, although, unsurprisingly, I have never been within cooee of putting it into practice. What I didn’t learn is that the name for this ‘impromptu igloo’, as David Astle defines it, is a quinzhee. Pronounced quin-zee. As David says, a lovely word.

Of course the aims of a Scrabble dictionary and the aims of a normal dictionary are quite remote from each other. The Scrabble dictionary favours the odd word – and I mean very odd  from wherever in the world it might come. Particularly if it has letters in it that produce a good score. The maths in Scrabble was always beyond me. I would always go for the obvious word rather than calculate the good score. And I lacked the killer instinct required for all such games. I leave it to David Astle to do what he can with the quinzhee (which, by the way, is not in the Macquarie Dictionary and not ever likely to be).

Watch David Astle's interview New Scrabble words make the lexicon 'relevant' says wordsmith David Astle | Leigh Sales | ABC News

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