Hobbies And Games - Other

The Origin of Hangman



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There is probably no-one who hasn't played hangman, the simple spelling game played by two or more players. Now considered in some circles to be too gruesome for children to play, with the game modified to remove the hanging element, it is nevertheless played all around the world.

• How to Play Hangman

Traditionally hangman has always been played with pen and paper, although the growth in computers and the Internet has resulted in the game evolving into a one person game as well, the person playing against the computer software. The game of hangman though is played in basically the same way.

One player thinks of a word, and can be just about anything, although some people like to have a word associated with a category, say entertainment or sport. Once a word has been thought of, a number of blanks is written down on the piece of paper, the blanks equating to the number letters in the word.

It is then up to the second player to start guessing letters. If a letter is guessed that is in the word then the blank or blanks are filled in with that letter. A guess of a letter though that is not present results in the first player being able to start drawing the hangman's gallows.

There are any number of variations of the drawing of the gallows and its intended victim. The gallows are normally drawn as three or four lines, with the body hanging from it consisting of a head, body, two arms and two legs. Some players of hangman though start the game with the gallows already drawn whilst others add eyes and noses to the hangman's victim.

The winner of hangman is either the second player who manages to fill the blanks before the victim is hanging from the gallows, or it is the first player who hangs the victim before the word is guessed.

• The Origins of Hangman

There is no point in history that can for certain be said to be the time when the game of hangman was invented. It certainly dates back to England in the Victorian age, and was certainly named in the work of the folklorist, Alice Gomme, Birds, Beasts and Fishes, in 1894. As to why hangman though is a matter of conjecture. Hanging was the normal form of capital punishment in England at the time, and so most people would have been aware of the punishment, even if they had not witnessed one. Who linked a spelling game and capital punishment though will never be known. Hangman though was a game that spread quickly.

Hangman remains one of the most useful tools in teaching children to spell. A fun game that adds a competitive edge to spelling, hangman may not necessary be politically correct


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