Read an Excerpt
Scrabble Word Building Book
By Saleem Ahmed
All right reserved.
The book you are holding has been a family project and a labor of love for more than seven years, but the conceptual seed was sown more than twenty-five years ago, when I was an agronomist in Pakistan. With leisure-time activities scarce, my Hawaiian-born sansei (third generation Japanese) wife, Yasmin, and I often played SCRABBLE®.
In Sukkar, a small town 350 miles north of Karachi, Pakistan, the competition was fierce (I usually lost). How many times I wished some little angel would come to my rescue -- especially late in the game, when openings were few, "choice" spots were already taken, and the desperation level was at an all-time high. The brain would race in all directions, the mind would turn to mush, and I would feverishly try to recall nursery rhymes and musical notes to find that two- or three-letter word that could help me win the game. Did the black sheep go ba-ba or baa-baa; and is the third musical note me or mi? Other questions that came up as my game improved: Does any letter come before KA (the spiritual self in old Egyptian religion)? Answer: OKA, a Turkish unit of weight. Or after OX? Answer: OXY, containing oxygen.
We permitted ourselves to consult the dictionary in our games, because this made the game a learning process also; but flipping through all alphabets to find a suitable connecting letter can be very time-consuming! Thus, secretly, we began to compile our own lists of important two- and three-letter words having high point values, such as JO and XIS (respectively a Scottish sweetheart and the plural of the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet). Still I usually lost.
As our lives become more hectic, we stopped playing SCRABBLE® until our daughters, Aisha and Seema, were old enough to play with us. As competitiveness returned, the thought of expanding our word lists into a book come to mind. When we acquired a computer seven years ago, the project was born.
Had we any notion then of the magnitude of the task we were embarking upon, we probably would have nipped the project in the bud. At first I envisioned our book to list only two- and three-letter words. So, Aisha and Seema pored over dictionaries and made a list of all such words. Then we sorted out 94 two-letter words and about 800 three-letter words commonly accepted in English. Of the latter, about 550 are "built up" by adding a letter to either the front or back of the two-letter words fisted. We entered all in the computer, and Yasmin helped with proofreading. Thus, our separate lists of two-letter and three-letter words came into being.
We then realized these were handy lists, but they certainly did not constitute a reference book. So, we decided to include four-, five-, six-, seven-, and buildable eight-letter words also. And with each new listing, our entries expanded in geometric proportions. After two years, when we were celebrating the completion of our task, it dawned on us that it would be highly irritating to the book's users to look at each list separately. Reluctantly we consolidated these separate listings into one alphabetical list. We used the seven-letter list as our base (it was the longest) and entered words from each of the other lists -- word by word -- in their proper alphabetical sequence. This took another year.
When we got down to celebrating again, another realization struck us: Our book listed only those words from which other words can be made, but what about words standing by themselves, from which no other word could be made? For example, can any letter be added either to the front or back of the common word QUIZ? Our book did not include this word at that time, since nothing can be added. Well, the reader would not know whether this was an oversight or whether nothing could be added to either its front or back. Then the stark realization gripped us: The only way to prevent the reader from having to use another dictionary to ensure that nothing could be added to QUIZ -- or that a word such as ZYMURGY (the branch of chemistry dealing with fermentation) existed in English -- would be to include in our book all words in the English language, even those standing by themselves.
So, back to the drawing board we went. This time we added all other words up to seven letters long which we had previously omitted. Another year's work. All together, more than 70,000 words are listed.
Anyway, here we are, seven years later, proud of our family project. The memory of the family having worked together over these years will certainly be treasured by all of us.
We hope using this book helps draw your family and friends closer together also.
We thank the National SCRABBLE® Association for examining sample sections of this book and offering useful suggestions.
To join the NSA, send $15.00 (foreign fee is $20.00 in U.S. funds) to:
National SCRABBLE® Association
Greenport, NY 11944
You'll receive a year's subscription to the SCRABBLE® NEWS (8 issues), a roster of official SCRABBLE® clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada, a membership card and information about local and regional SCRABBLE® tournaments.
We will appreciate your bringing to our attention any typos you detect, or other words you would like to suggest for inclusion in future editions of The SCRABBLE® Word-Building Book. Please send your comments to:
781 Eleele Place
Honolulu, Hl 96825
Copyright © 1991 by Saleem Ahmed
Excerpted from Scrabble Word Building Book by Saleem Ahmed Copyright © 1991 by Saleem Ahmed. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.