Forwarded by the delightful selenesue:
Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Welsh is the new word in Scrabble
By Nick Horton
BBC Wales news website
Word perfect: Scrabble yn Gymraeg is in the shops
You won't find an X, Q or Z in the Welsh-language version of Scrabble.
But while those letters are missing from the Welsh alphabet, double F and L feature prominently in the latest version of the popular board word game.
Scrabble yn Gymraeg (in Welsh) has been released amid hopes it will be popular with native speakers at home and abroad, and learners of the language.
Some 2,500 copies of the game have been produced initially, with backing from the Welsh Books Council.
Scrabble maker Mattel describes it as the world's best-selling word game, with 100 million copies sold in 29 languages.
Dewi Morris Jones of the Welsh Books Council said the idea had been around for many years to produce a Welsh edition.
The council worked closely with Leisure Trends, who have the licence for the game, to come up with the right combination of letters and scores.
Computer checks were run on a million words in the University of Wales dictionary of Welsh, as well as 800,000 words in the Welsh Bible.
The result was that more common Welsh letters, such as Y and W, are worth only one point. In addition, letters which often appear together such as NG or RH, appear on one tile and are worth 10 points, although the more widely used DD is valued at one point.
SCRABBLE FACTS The Malaysian version has the highest number of single letters - 18 As
In the Polish version, Z is worth only one point
The highest recorded single word score in English is 392 for CAZIQUES, meaning "native chiefs of West Indian aborigines"
London hosted the first world championship in 1991
Welsh words often mutate, depending on the context in which they are used. But Mr Morris Jones said that while words which mutate in the middle are allowed in the game, words which have mutated at the start are forbidden.
Therefore, for example, Cymraeg (Welsh) is permitted, but its mutated form, Gymraeg, is not. Gymraeg can only be used after a word which causes it to change - for example, yn Gymraeg (in Welsh).
But camddefnyddio (misuse) can be used, when it mutates from defnyddio (used).
One quirk of the game is that even though J is not formally in the Welsh alphabet, it is in Scrabble, because it is often used in words such as garej (garage) and jambori (jamboree).
However, the circumflex seen above letters like "a'" in Siân has been omitted. Its addition changes the meaning of words such as ton (wave) and tôn (tune).
"That was quite an issue," said Mr Morris Jones. "As a matter of principle we would have liked to have had it, but its use was so low that it would have cluttered up the game."
Mr Morris Jones admitted to having been only a minor Scrabble fan in the past, but he was more likely to play in Welsh.
Philip Nelkon, a four-time Scrabble champion, offered useful advice to players - in Welsh or any other language.
"Vocabulary is one of the prerequisites, but also there's the ability to be able to see on the rack what you can produce," said Mr Nelkon.
"There's also strategy: if you are ahead you play rather differently to if you are behind. If you're winning you are looking to keep the board reasonably closed, if possible.
"Also utilise the higher scoring letters for keeping your score ticking over.
"With lower scoring letters try to keep them back, which you'll probably be able to use in a seven-letter word."
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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 18:13 GMT
Microsoft unveils Welsh software
Croeso i Windows yn Gymraeg - or welcome to Welsh Windows
Welsh-language versions of two leading computer programs have been released by the Welsh Language Board and Microsoft.
People using computers can now choose to have Windows XP and Office 2003 in Welsh.
Meri Huws, chair of the Welsh Language Board, said it was "a very important development for the Welsh language".
Welsh is one of 40 new languages being added, in response to complaints from around the world that youngsters were losing their native tongues.
The work, which took 15 months to complete, translated half a million Welsh words and phrases.
The Welsh Language Interface Packs (LIPs) see the Welsh language joining other computer languages such as Hindi, Irish and Maori.
This is without doubt a very important development for the Welsh language and confirms that the language is contemporary, relevant and useful
The software will be available to download free through the Welsh Language Board and Microsoft websites and on CDs from the Welsh Language Board.
Beverley Lennon, a Welsh language teacher at Cantonian High School in Cardiff, has tried out the system and said her pupils would benefit from it.
She said: "What's lovely about this is, as opposed to the children seeing the Welsh words in a book, they are going to be going on to a screen and seeing and learning so many different words in Welsh and learning how to actually do things through the medium of Welsh.
"You have a lot of key words on here like 'gyda,' which means with, 'agor' which means to open.
"Again, they are going to recognise the key words. I know they are going to be very excited."
Welcoming the software, Welsh Language Minister Alun Pugh, said: "The launch of Windows and Office 2003 in Welsh marks a real milestone for the language and fits in well with the Welsh Assembly Government's vision for a bilingual Wales.
"I find it very encouraging that at a time of increasing globalisation, a huge multinational company still recognises the importance of supporting diversity in languages and culture."
Ms Huws said: "This is without doubt a very important development for the Welsh language and confirms that the language is contemporary, relevant and useful.
"Having familiar computer programmes such as Word and Outlook available in Welsh will increase the opportunities for people of all ages to use the language in their everyday lives, both at work and at home." P.S. I finally got to read the original Howl's Moving Castle and I find it beyond delightful that his name is Howell and he gets drunk at his rugby club reunion. OK, it's a context thing. ^_^