Scrabble jandal scandal
STEVE KILGALLON Last updated 05:00 10/07/2011

Scrabble will reconsider its controversial banning of the word "jandal" after a wave of protest from New Zealand players, the editor of the game's official word list says.

But New Zealand's champion player says our local term for the ubiquitous rubber footwear should never have been removed and the decision was made against the advice of a Kiwi Scrabble expert and dictionary compiler.

While the latest edition of Scrabble Official Words, released last Friday, includes slang (thang, innit), colloquial drug terms (tik, gak), technospeak (wiki, blog) and words derived from Indian cuisine (keema, aloo) among 2810 new inclusions in the 270,000-word list, the word jandal was excised.

The list's English-based editor Robert Groves explains jandal was removed due to a Scrabble rule preventing words requiring a capital letter, and the evidence he had seen referred to Jandal as a "proprietary" term, like Hoover. When the decision was announced last month, it shocked local players.

Groves says the weight of subsequent complaints means he is ready to reconsider for the book's next edition, due in about 18 months' time.

And he will be searching New Zealand media, blogs and messageboards for evidence of the word's usage.

"It [the decision] got some currency in New Zealand," Groves says. "A lot of New Zealanders were questioning that, and we have a note to revisit it for the next update and search for evidence of it being used in print with a lower case `j' and make a decision based on that."

New Zealand No1 Howard Warner says the stoush only arose because Groves ignored advice from Scrabble's International Players' Association, whose dictionary committee including Jeff Grant of Hastings compiled a definitive word list before Collins intervened.

"They shouldn't be taking out words unless they are definite mistakes," he says. "Someone in Britain stuck their oar in and believed the only possible New Zealand words we could have would be Maori words. They assume if we have any English words, we would borrow Australian ones.

"Jeff discovered dozens of usage of it with a lower-case j. It's a generic term: every time a Samoan woman says `I'll take a jandal to you', she's not referring to a brand, she's talking about a piece of footwear that's very good for smacking."

Warner says the bias of publishers HarperCollins is apparent in the inclusion of multiple examples of British, American and Australian proprietary terms, and fears it will be another three years before the missing jandal returns. He says this edition corrects its predecessor, "an absolute abomination".

HarperCollins relies on a constantly updated database of 4.5 billion words, drawn from newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs worldwide to validate words, but Groves pledges to spread the net wider.

"With the sensitivity of this one, we would want to talk to some New Zealand experts and see if there were any other sources beyond our corpus in case it doesn't have the evidence we need, although it is pretty vast."

- Sunday Star Times

From here.