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Slurs

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A slur is a word that is used to degrade what it describes. Beginning in June 2020, NASPA had a discussion about why and whether slurs should be part of the official lexicon, the NASPA Word List (2018) Edition.

To avoid repeating contextually offensive language, the public communications did not list the words in question, identifying one of them only as the N word.

See also our Media relations page for mention about this story in the media, and for our contact information.

Timeline

2020-06-11
Jim Hughes asks if NASPA can remove the N word from the playing lexicon.
2020-06-13
John Chew asks Advisory Board to vote on removing all offensive slurs by 2020-09-01.
2020-06-18
After deliberating by email, the AB convened by Zoom to discuss the issue further, deciding to solicit more public feedback in the form of a poll.
2020-06-20
Original letter is sent out inviting people to participate in online polling.
2020-07-05
Poll remains open, but statistical results are tabulated from over 1,000 responses are tabulated.
2020-07-07
Chew announces that he had had a meeting with Hasbro, and reported “I personally agreed with them that all the slurs should come out of our lexicon. It’s the right thing to do, and I will make sure that it happens. I have asked the Advisory Board to vote their consciences, because I think this is an important moment in the history of our association. Everyone should know how their board represented them on this weighty issue.”
2020-07-08
Hasbro announces that slurs will no longer be permitted in any SCRABBLE play, and that NASPA has agreed to remove them from NWL2018
2020-07-09
AB met by Zoom from 8:00-10:45 PM ET to vote on Chew's original motion, defeating it by a vote of 6 to 4.
2020-07-09
Chew consulted with the Board of Trustees by phone, and agreed to honor his commitment to Hasbro, overturning the Advisory Board's ruling.
2020-07-12
The NASPA Dictionary Committee convenes to review word selection criteria and the tentative list of offensive slurs.
2020-08-20
The NASPA Dictionary Committee submits a draft report on which words should be categorized as offensive slurs.

FAQ

Who decides which words are offensive?
Our word list is composed of words that are found in any one of several college-level dictionaries. If the word appears in our source dictionaries only in senses that are tagged as being offensive (or an equivalent label), then we consider it offensive.
Who decides which offensive words are slurs?
The initial selection was made by John Chew, and it has since been revised based on public input, and is as of late July being debated by the Dictionary Committee.
Who decides which words will be deleted?
The words in the proposed list will be individually checked against Merriam-Webster's current online word list to confirm that they are labelled in all lower-case senses as at least sometimes disparaging, offensive, obscene or vulgar. All that meet these criteria will be deleted. For words that do not appear in MW, a more complicated set of rules will apply.
I find a particular word offensive. How can I get it added to the offensive word list below?
If you find a word in one of our source lexica that should have been deemed offensive according to our rules, please bring it to our attention. We will review it and make sure that it is in the next edition of our offensive word list and not in the next major release of the NASPA School Word List. If the word is not listed as offensive in Merriam-Webster, try contacting their Customer Service to express your views.
Can you send me an unscrambled list of the words?
We will publish our final draft to NASPA Member Services, but are not distributing unscrambled copies of earlier drafts such as the one that appears below.
Why did you start talking about this now?
Cesar Del Solar asked on the NASPA Member Concerns Facebook group what were doing as an association about Black Lives Matter. Jim Hughes suggested that we could show solidarity with BLM by removing the N word, Cesar agreed, and a spirited discussion ensued.

Archived Questions

The following questions and answers are preserved for historical interest, but are not current anymore.

How long will the poll run?
When the rate of responses drops down enough to suggest that most interested parties have responded, a statistical summary will be presented to the AB (this happened on 2020-07-05); the poll will continue indefinitely.
Are the poll results a binding vote?
No, the poll is just to solicit public input into the process.
Can I respond to the poll twice?
Yes. We can usually tell when you have done so, and will combine your responses.
Do I have to be a NASPA member to take the poll?
No, we are interested in everyone's opinion on this subject.
Does it matter what race I am as a poll respondent?
If it is important to you, please let us know in the comments field in the poll.

Offensive Words

On 2020-08-20, the Dictionary Committee published a draft list of offensive slurs, substantially revising previous lists. The older list can be found at our page on slur history. The current version is available to NASPA members through NASPA Member Services.

Media may obtain copies by emailing info@scrabbleplayers.org and mentioning their affiliation in their request.