Scrabble ramblings

It was apparently scrabble day last week and I found a poem to help remind you of the meanings of two letter words allowed in the game.

I enjoy playing scrabble, however I think that memorising words without knowing what they mean takes the fun out of the game. I’d even prefer to allow words that aren’t in the dictionary, but which have describable meanings, instead of allowing ‘dictionary words’ when no one playing has any idea what they mean.

I’ve always fancied playing a game like scrabble with IPA symbols instead of letters. I think it would be interesting to have to think about the sounds rather than the spelling, I’d get to practice my rusty IPA skills, and I love any excuse for pulling out my wonderful pronunciation dictionary! I’ve considered making an IPA game for myself and have seen a few people speculating about it online, but the trickiness of deciding on how many symbols to include and the tile values have so far put me off.

There have been suggestions about making changes to letter values in the official Scrabble set. Apparently the inventor of Scrabble calculated the values from looking at written texts, and people using computer analysis have now suggested changes, taking into account frequency of letters in English, frequency of letters in words the desired length and how easy it is to play a letter. However, it’s been criticised for altering the amount of luck in a game. If I was to do my own IPA version I’d have to try to get the balance right.

I also love Boggle and considered trying to replicate an IPA word game similar to this. The distribution of characters might be tricky and there would probably need to be more dice than there are at the moment as there are more IPA symbols than there are letters. It’s something I’d like to have a go at making though. I’ll just have to find someone who knows IPA to play it with! Or persuade my boyfriend to learn.


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