General information

INFO: A word to play is in CAPITALS. Letters already on the board are shown as the S here: WORM(S). Premium Score squares: DL = Double letter: TL = Triple letter: DW = Double Word: TW = Triple Word. The blanks have no score letter on the Top right! A bingo (using all 7 of your letters) gets +35.
Useful word lists are in the first post "ALL MY TIPS. This is the post to read first" and on some other posts. I welcome comments and suggestions.
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Open letter to Words With Friends about your Dictionary

(Please " like ""  and do " tick " as Useful" below if you want to vote for this and do leave a comment)

An Open letter to Zynga and Words With Friends about your Word List 

I apologize for the length of this post but I feel it needs to be said.

There has been a lot of debate in these posts about your word list. Zynga are in favour of a kind of arbitrary censorship whilst most posts query the necessity to do that.

I am Jewish and the word JEW does not offend me at all. Even if you choose to ban its use for a usage of the word in an expression that is hardly ever heard; probably 5%, no more. I have never heard that expression "Jew down" in my life (I am 67!). And please note that it is a two-worded expression.


According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language", Fourth Edition (2000):

It is widely recognized that the attributive use of the noun Jew, in phrases such as Jew lawyer or Jew ethics, is both vulgar and highly offensive. In such contexts Jewish is the only acceptable possibility. Some people, however, have become so wary of this construction that they have extended the stigma to any use of Jew as a noun, a practice that carries risks of its own. In a sentence such as “There are now several Jews on the council”, which is unobjectionable, the substitution of a circumlocution like Jewish people or persons of Jewish background may in itself cause offence for seeming to imply that Jew has a negative connotation when used as a noun.

The above quote would suggest five things:
1 If the word Jew (adj.) is not allowed then neither should Jewish (adj.) be allowed.
2. If Jewish is allowed, Jew should also be allowed!
3. If “There are now several Jews on the council”, is unobjectionable so too is “There is one Jew on the council”. If that is objectionable then the following sentences should also be considered as objectionable and the words underlined banned. That would of course be ridiculous.
“There is/are now one/several Christian(s)/Muslim(s)/Arab(s), on the council”
4. “…a circumlocution like Jewish people or persons of Jewish background may in itself cause offence.” Equally suggests that Jewish might be objectionable and if by the same argument we include”… Arab person/people” why not ban the word Arab? But of course the objection here is only in a 2-word phrase. I think your problem is that you are banning words that when forming part of an expression may be derogatory but when placed as one word on the board cannot be called derogatory. Remember WWF only allows one word at a time. If the word Arab is fine, the word Jew is fine too…
If you wish to be consistent then you should ban the use of the 2 words BLACK and CHINK. Their use as a derogatory word in the expressions "Black b**t**d" (Note Bastard is allowed!) or the Yellow Chinks, are offensive. So JEW should be allowed.
5. Wikipedia says in its opening sentence "the attributive use of the noun Jew, in phrases such as Jew lawyer or Jew ethics, is both vulgar and highly offensive  ". It does not say and I agree, that the use of the word Jew on its own is derogatory or offensive.
Taking into account that there are many other permitted words that, used singularly, (C**T, SHIT, etc.) are not recommended to be used in conversations with -13s, your selection of banned words is extremely arbitrary. 
Also your deletion of certain, possibly derogatory words, is NOT impartial. 

Take the word YID. This word is accepted in ENABLE but ask any Jewish person and they will say it can be derogatory Like "Bloody Yid". The fact is that the fans (like me) of the Premier English football team, Tottenham Hotspur, are known affectionately and chant the "Yid army". Why? Because the fans are from North London and many are Jewish. That  shows that depending on the context it may be derogatory or not at all.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Kraut is a German word recorded in English from 1918 onwards as a derogatory term for a German, particularly a German soldier.

If I called a German, a KRAUT he might well hit me! So why allow it?

There are many other examples.

I am amused by your banning of the word NAZI and its derivatives. The Nazi party might have been bad (immoral, ruthless and more) but it is a word that is used without being thought of as derogatory by the generations born in the era of the two World Wars. The children that are now studying the World Wars might find it a tad difficult were the word Nazi banned from the history books! I believe that the word Nazi and all it connotations are no more derogatory or however you judge that word than say Mogul! They were (the Moguls) extremely barbaric too.What is wrong with "Auschwitz was a Nazi concentration camp"
And where do you continue with this censorship? Should you ban: Prostitute, Wank…? I could go on and on but I think you understand my point.

It would be better to allow all the ENABLE words and not be censors, or more precisely censors of some words but not all. Consistency is a rule that must be used when censorship is sought. Apply to all (and spoil the game) or do not apply it.
Turning to your reason for all this censorship: “We want it safe for the under 13s” 
Many children play both Words With Friends, Scrabble on line and Scrabble as a board game (and several other word board games too). If an under 13 played Nazi or Jew against me I would only be annoyed if they scored big. Offended? Shocked? Not at all. 
In SOWPODS land there are no people asking to “Please give us our words back”. Many children play Scrabble and I have not heard of any complaints from adults because a "derogatory" word was used! I have been playing Scrabble now for over 50 years.
They are just words. No more, no less. It is how they are used and in what context they are used that makes a word derogatory. I can easily think of many ways of using the words; Jew, Arab, Kraut, Nazi, to be racist and derogatory, and in each case they would be right to be offended. However most ways of using those words need another word with it. As I said before Words With Friends allows only 1 word at a time.
Finally, as neither Words With Friends’ rules (nor Scrabble’s)  insist that the player knows the definition of a word, should an under 13 play such a word it might be that he / she has heard it in a song, read it in a magazine and cleverly plays the word to score well. There is nothing wrong with that.

I therefore ask you, the management of Zynga, to look again at that policy of censorship. If you think that banning certain words (for the -13s as you say) will improve the game or prevent children being offended, you are incorrect. Indeed most WWF players, on reading through the posts, are not in favour of your censorship.

You have a great game. The conception of the APP is almost perfect, (unlike Scrabble!) You have a winner there save for the idea of censoring our language.
Please give us our words back!
Henry Barnett
UN: Henryb65

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