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Scrabble Attacked for Lesbian Slang

| 15 Oct 2007 14:00
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Ubisoft's portable Scrabble game gets attacked for gay terminology.

Zachary McAdam, an Ulster, Ireland, man, is calling for a Nintendo DS Scrabble game published by Ubisoft to be recalled after discovering that the word "lesbo" is counted in its anagram section. McAdam, an IT project manager from Holywood, was playing Junior Scrabble 2007 with his 7-year-old daughter Ellen, but halted when the word appeared on screen.

He said, "We were stuck trying to find the last five-letter anagram so I hit the give-up option and the term 'lesbo' appeared on the screen. I nearly fell off my chair. The term 'lesbo' is a slang name intentionally meant to cause offense. I looked it up on the website dictionary.com just to make sure I wasn't overreacting, and it described the word as a noun, slang, disparaging and offensive."

Junior Scrabble 2007 is based on the word list provided by the Chambers Official Scrabble Dictionary. The Chambers definition for "lesbo" reads: "Derogatory slang short form of lesbian. Although lesbo did not become current until 1940s: previously used by heterosexuals as derisive insults to gay women, though it seems that gay women are now using the words to describe themselves in positive terms."

Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association spokesman PA MagLochlainn said, "I would never use the word. The correct term is lesbian. I am not in the least bit surprised it is included because the young men who design these games are not taught by schools that these words can be used as a form of homophobic bullying."

Ubisoft released a statement apologizing to Mr. McAdam's and any others who were offended by the term:

We are sorry if Scrabble 2007 for the DS has caused concern to any of our customers. Ubisoft develops games for entertainment, with the goal of bringing enjoyment to the players, and it is of course never our intention to upset them.

In the case of Scrabble 2007, the game uses a word list based on the Chambers Official Scrabble Dictionary and all approved words contained in this dictionary are playable in the game. There are over 277,000 approved words in the dictionary.

The dictionary includes words used in the English language, but that may be considered unusual or offensive. It is for this reason that the game includes a 'junior' option which will prevent the player and computer using these 'unusual' or 'offensive' words in playing. However, 'lesbo' is not considered as offensive by the official dictionary and therefore is playable in both options.

Source: Belfast Telegraph

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