Saturday, November 23, 2013

Selfies, onesies and twerking

So, the votes have been cast and counted, the contenders sorted and sifted, and we have a winner.

Not, you'll be happy to hear, for the Most Preposterous Supermarket Food Advertised During a Single Episode of I'm a Celeb… (although Lidl's Three Fish Roast ought to win a prize for something, if only for being conceptually even less appealing than the Waitrose five-birder).

Nor indeed for the most unappetising snack served up on said Ant-and-Declathon. No, this prize is a literary one, whose previous winners include such lexicographical luminaries as "chav" (2004); "bovvered" (2006); "simples" (2009) and "omnishambles" (2012).

Yes, folks, it's the Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year Award, in which thesaurian hopefuls vie for the key to enter the hallowed precincts of verbal Valhalla, to scale the Mount Parnassus of grammatical glory...

All right Dixon, stop showing off. Just tell us the winner and we can crack on with the rest of our lives.

A selfie, yesterday. Too old for twerking.
OK. The 2013 Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year was (drum roll)…

Selfie (n): "A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone... and uploaded to a social media website."

Among the also-rans were Schmeat, Oinguito, Binge-watch and Twerk. And if you don't know what those mean, you'll have to look them up. Oh wait, you can't: these upstarts will wither on the vine of linguistic respectability and will never find a home in Dictionary Corner.

"I've never taken a selfie," said Mrs D reflectively when she heard the news. "And I've never worn a onesie either. What do you do when you want to go to the loo?"

Well may she ask. Fortunately though, this year's must-have fashion item didn't even make the shortlist so we shall probably never find out. Still, there's always next year. 

A sneaky peek at the early declarations gives us such gems as:

Unsurance (n): The feeling you get when you decide not to insure your offspring's student bus pass and, yes, he goes and loses it.
A dictionary, yesterday. Too old for selfies OR twerking

Cashmare (n): A very vivid dream in which you convince yourself that your wallet is stuffed with £10 notes. But when you wake up and look, it isn't.

Shrumper (n): Your purple pullover after it accidentally got mixed up in a hot wash.

That's enough nouns. Verbs, adjectives, adverbs and even conjunctions are in with a good chance too, so if you can think of a good one, let the Oxford people know.

Although Squerk (v): To jiggle lasciviously while sitting at your desk - is going to take some beating.

All of which proves, if nothing else, that the English language is a tough old bird (if you want tender, go for a five-bird roast) that is quite happy absorbing all the neologisms that new technology, party politics and celebrity culture can throw at it.

And if you're still not convinced, you can stick that in your pape and sploak it.

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