Latin Scrabble IV: A Special Rule to Make Things More Interesting

A rule that increases the difficulty and interest of the game is to allow double or even triple score for homonyms, over and above any double or triple word scores marked on the board. This should not be permitted when the homonyms are different forms of the same word: it would be absurd to count PUERIS twice, once as dative and once as ablative, or OMNIBUS six times, for dative and ablative, masculine, feminine, and neuter. (Clever greedy people might even include the locative for a nonuple score, though actual locative uses of omnibus in literature would be very difficult to find, particularly when you need them in three different genders.) On the other hand, it seems perfectly reasonable, and challenging, to count LEGIS twice, once as genitive singular of lex, and once as the second person singular, present indicative active of lego, legere. Remember: quantity doesn’t matter. In this case, the player is, in effect, finding two different words to fit the same letters, and that ought to be worth something.

Some words could even count triple: EO is a verb (‘I go’), a pronoun (ablative singular masculine and neuter of is, ea, id), and an adverb (‘thither’). The best rule is that if they are words or forms of words listed separately in the dictionary (or in any one of the dictionaries present), they count as homonyms, but if they are separate forms of the same word, they do not. I would also count different forms of the same word if the quantity is the only difference: for example, LEGI would count triple as dative singular of lex, present passive infinitive of lego (with short E), and first person singular perfect active indicative of lego (with long E).

Why count homonyms? Because it challenges the players’ knowledge of Latin. Every student who has gotten beyond the first few chapters of the textbook knows that AMAS means ‘you love’, but those few who know that it also means ‘buckets for fire-fighting’ in the accusative, an alternative form of HAMAS, should be rewarded for their knowledge with extra points.

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