Back in August, the fine folks at the Oxford English Dictionary led many of us to believe that the entire organization had been hacked and taken over by a group of 12-year old girls, as the 40 new words that were announced were rather, well, awful for the most part. Among them were such terrible reminders that society is in a downward spiral including twerk, jorts, fauxhawk, derp, buzzworthy and TL;DR, which isn’t even a f*cking word. But the one new word that stood out the most, enough to be named the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for 2013, is selfie.
That’s right, when people look back on society’s greatest mistakes in a century or so, when the English language has devolved to the point that people are communicating with just armpit farts, the remaining scholars can circle 2013 and say, “Yep, this is where it all went wrong.” And someone will undoubtedly shout, “NERD!” and throw him into a fire.
Today Oxford Dictionaries announces selfie as their international Word of the Year 2013. The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date. Language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors reveals that the frequency of the word selfie in the English language has increased by 17,000% since this time last year.
Selfie can actually be traced back to 2002 when it was used in an Australian online forum. The word gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013 as it evolved from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph. Its linguistic productivity is already evident in the creation of numerous related spin-off terms showcasing particular parts of the body like helfie (a picture of one’s hair) and belfie (a picture of one’s posterior); a particular activity – welfie (workout selfie) and drelfie (drunken selfie), and even items of furniture – shelfie and bookshelfie. (Via Oxford Dictionaries)
So why selfie? Why on Earth is this stupid term for the behavior of narcissists and attention-starved dimwits being rewarded like this?
Judy Pearsall, Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained the decision: “Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year.”
Okay, so it’s not that it’s a good word by any means, it’s just that so many people are now using it. Whatever, this is still awful. I wonder if I should even dare ask what the other finalist words were…
This is the best we could do in 2013? I guess my vote would have been for olinguito, because how can you turn down this face?
While everyone else celebrates selfie, I’ll just hang back and keep appreciating 2012’s Word of the Year, GIF.
(That fuzzy critter via Getty)