Saturday, June 02, 2007

Word of the Week: SALTERNS

Recently I have been playing Scrabble online at the Internet Scrabble Club for awhile now. Did you know there are exactly 95 legal 2-letter words? Well, it depends on which word list that you use. I am talking about the TWL98 which contains 169,092 words and is based on the Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary, used in North American and Canadian tournaments.

Anyway, I also downloaded Quackle, a program which was written by an MIT sophomore named Jason Katz-Brown who has been the highest rated Scrabble player in the United States. It's a great program to play scrabble against the computer, against a human or also explore legal words available in a tray. When I got it I asked it what words were available in a ERSTNL A, mis-remembering that list as the most commonly appearing letters in English (apparently it is ETAOIN SHRDLU). However, the program produced a handy list of "bingoes" (7-letter words that receive a 50-point bonus) such as ANTLERS, RENTALS, STERNAL and SALTERN.

A few hours later I was playing scrabble online and as my last word of the game (down by 12 points) I had SLTRNS? with an available A on the board. I played SaLT?RNS across two triple word scores (as well as completing another triple word by playing the S onto hooters to form Shooters) for a total of 146 points. Game over.

What is a Saltern, you may ask (though sadly, in Scrabble what a word means is absolutely immaterial, it's whether the word appears in the word list that counts, and where you can play it on the board for the most points). Here is the definition of saltern from

salt·ern (sôl'tərn)
A saltworks.

[Old English sealtærn : sealt, salt; see salt + ærn, house.]


No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin