.By Michael Skapinker
Is “aarrghh” a word? Not if you are playing Scrabble with me. If it is not in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary: put your tiles back and think again. “Aargh” is acceptable (an expression of anguish, horror, rage, or other strong emotion, according to the OED), but not “aarrghh”. My board, my rules.
Others disagree. “Aarrghh” appears in the Collins Official Scrabble Words. Collins’ latest edition also includes “thang”, “innit” and “nang”. Commentators greeted the Scrabble book by bemoaning the decline of the language and berating publishers who pandered to the young.
The new Collins book appeared on the same day that the CBI, the UK employers’ organisation, published a survey showing that 42 per cent of companies were dissatisfied with school leavers’ English skills. Are the two events connected?
Global Language Monitor’s comment about the supposed ‘decline of English’.
We at the Global Language Monitor have noted that for at least two hundred years folks as diverse as Benjamin Franklin (eliminating and adding new letters), Noah Webster and George Bernard Shaw (simplifying spelling), and George Orwell (simplifying grammar) have long argued. Ghoti and chips anyone?
Now that this is actually happening in the early 21st century, it is most interesting to note that these changes are being driven by the youthful users of the language, as has been the case since the earliest days of the language.
Consider: Sumer is icumen in! / Lhude sing cuccu!
Which ancient forbear playing an early version of Scrabble(tm), had the audacity to recognize ‘cuckoo’ for ‘cuccu’ or for that matter accept ‘loud’ for ‘lhude’?
One note of caution: these same folks have decided that is perfectly fine to intermix letters with words, so you now can find ‘gr8’ substituting for ‘great’.
Is this something the up with which you will simply not put?
Paul JJ Payack