Frequent commenter Tatyana just sent me the word ouguiya, which is in the dictionary and legal for Scrabble use. I had never heard of it but was thrilled to know it existed; when I googled it, I discovered the equally marvelous word ariary, of a similar nature. What do these exotic lexical items mean? The answers lie within.
The ouguiya is the currency of Mauritania; it’s from Arabic ūgīya, a dialect form of ūqīya ‘ounce,’ and should thus (in my opinion) be pronounced /u’giyə/ rather than Merriam-Webster’s preferred /u’gwiyə/. The Wikipedia article I linked to goes on to say “The only circulating currency other than the Malagasy ariary whose division units are not based on a power of ten, each ouguiya is comprised of five khoums (singular and plural in English; Arabic: خمس)”; this sent me to the article ariary, where I learned that “The ariary replaced the previous currency, the Malagasy franc (also known as by its French name, the franc malgache)…, on January 1, 2005. One Malagasy franc was valued at 0.2 ariarys; that is, one iraimbilanja.” Not being a Scrabble player at anything other than the most amateur (dinner-table) level, I wonder: is ariary unusable until a new Scrabble dictionary is printed, even though as the official name of a national currency it will presumably automatically be included?
It’s probably worth mentioning, by the way, that final /i/ is always written y in Malagasy (you have to wonder how they came up with that arbitrary-seeming rule); the word is pronounced /ari’ari/.