Byline: Richard Godwin
THE lexicographers of the Oxford English Dictionary have spoken and the word of the year is selfie (noun). A selfie, as you blates already know, is: "A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."
Could there be any other choice in 2013? By the end of the year, even the Hubble space telescope was taking selfies, according to the New Yorker's Borowitz Report. It was the year when unashamed bragging became acceptable, when the thin line between irony and sincerity ceased to matter, when each of us cast our digital self into the void in search of approval.
More excitingly, it was the year that International Internet English (IIE) came of age. The OED's list confirms it. We swapped links of Miley Cyrus twerking; we binge-watched House of Cards on Netflix, we hoarded bitcoins on hard drives; we shared GIFS from Buzzfeed and we went show-rooming, which means we browsed the shops in the meat world (ie, real life) but bought everything cheaper later online. None of these would be possible without the internet. And according to Balthazar Cohen, author of Totes Ridictionary (Plexus, [pounds sterling]9.99), the internet is "where language goes to die".
Cohen has produced a useful field guide to the English language, 2013. Most of his terms have a Made in Chelsea flavour -- you don't hear adorbs (adorable), amazeballs (amazing) and totes (totally) very much in Lancashire, though a University of Manchester study from this year does warn that English is become steadily posher.
A more marked trend is the move towards abbreviating everything, from obvs (obviously) and soz (sorry) to wevs (whatever).
Cohen blames social media -- and which of us hasn't dropped an unnec syllable or vwl to fit the 140 character limit of Twitter? Or resorted to an acronym, such as the familiar LOL, ROFL, OMG and WTF, plus FOMO (fear of missing out, which can make you well jel) and the related JOMO ( joy of missing out, which is what you feel when it's pissing down at Glasto and you're in the pub). One of my favourite in this genre is tl;dr (too long; didn't read, an appropriate response when someone sends you an article of >300 words). After all, like, YOLO (you only live once).
In his introduction, the despairing Cohen hits upon an interesting theory: "We're living through our phones and computers like never before, and, with little concern for sounding like speech-impaired halfwits, more and more of us are mixing up our typing and talking voices. …