In Our Own Backyard....Which way is 'wup?'I’ve been a writer all my life. I graduated with a degree in journalism. I’ve worked as a reporter/editor/publisher at the Pine Journal for 18 years, and I pride myself at being something of a wordsmith. One could logically deduce, therefore, that I should be a pretty decent Scrabble player, since I make my living with words. Yeah, right.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
I’ve been a writer all my life. I graduated with a degree in journalism. I’ve worked as a reporter/editor/publisher at the Pine Journal for 18 years, and I pride myself at being something of a wordsmith. One could logically deduce, therefore, that I should be a pretty decent Scrabble player, since I make my living with words.
I don’t know if it’s because I lack focus, or can’t think of words in two dimensions at once, but for some reason I’ve never been more than a mediocre Scrabble player. I grew up loving the game and I was always pretty evenly matched with my sister each time we played. But our version of Scrabble was a lot different than what my husband and I play today as adults. Back then, my sister and I would bring some sort of reading material with us when we sat down to play Scrabble, and in between turns, we’d page through a magazine, catch up on the latest newspaper, or dive into our most recent novel. It was a pleasant way to while away the time in between turns, and it kept the game from getting tedious. When my turn rolled around, I would put down my magazine, study the board and my letters, and play whatever word popped into my mind. Then I’d replenish my word tray and go back to my magazine. Sometimes I’d get lucky and win, and sometimes my sister, mom or dad would. No big deal.
After I grew up and started playing Scrabble in the “big leagues,” however, things changed. It seemed the pleasant dalliance over the Scrabble board on a Saturday night was a thing of the past. We had a set of friends who played fast and hard, spewing out words I’d never even heard of (but which always seemed to be in the Scrabble dictionary) and building high-scoring combinations of words in two different directions. I soon discovered that there was no idle chatter, no paging through the sports section of the newspaper between turns. Concentration and strategy were the name of the game – and I pretty consistently managed to lose my shirt (figuratively speaking)! I found I wasn’t really loving the game so much anymore, because everyone expected me to play well and I simply wasn’t hard-wired for that sort of cut-throat competition.
After a couple of disastrous rounds with those particular friends, I limited myself to playing strictly with my husband and family. I still got my clock cleaned more often than not, but I found they didn’t hold me up to any particular standard just because I deal in words for a living, and I had fun with it (well, most of the time).
Last weekend my husband Ken and I spent a long weekend in a rented cabin on the North Shore, and as we often do, we decided to bring along the Scrabble board to play during the evening. As we sorted out our letters, I was encouraged to discover that I’d drawn both the Q and the U, and I was able to start out with a bang – and a 30-point word to boot. Ken came right back at me by playing off my Q and hitting the double word square, and bang – he commanded an instant lead.
The game went back and forth, and I figured I had as good a chance as any at winning this time. After Ken played a questionable word, I challenged him and we discovered we’d failed to bring along the Scrabble dictionary. Like a true gentleman, he took the word back and played another, but minutes later, he hesitated briefly before playing the word, “Wup.”
“Um, I don’t think that’s right,” I challenged, but since we didn’t have a dictionary, I couldn’t be sure. I knew what he was getting at – as in “I’m gonna wup your butt” – but I couldn’t for the life of me recall if that was the way it was spelled or just how the heck it was supposed to go. I finally agreed to give it to him with the understanding that if we got home, looked it up, and found it to be wrong, he would have to sacrifice his championship (which I was already assuming he’d win) and I would be declared the winner by default.
Well, all of you out there who aced spelling in elementary school are probably groaning right about now and you know how all of this turned out. When we got home on Sunday afternoon, the first thing we did was dig out the Scrabble dictionary and look up the word “wup.”
“There is no such word!” Ken muttered. “The closest thing is ‘whump.’”
I threw my arms in the air victoriously and declared myself the winner at last.
It wasn’t until Monday morning at work that I decided to do a Google search on my computer for the word, “wup.” And much to my horror, it brought up an entry from the Urban Dictionary that defined it as “the short form ghetto version of ‘What’s up?’ – as from a genuine gangsta person: ‘Wup, dawg?’”
I decided the Urban Dictionary was probably not sanctioned in the Scrabble rules and didn’t qualify as a real word. And after all, what kind of a word is “wup,” anyway?
I won’t tell if you don’t...