“Youth slang is the obvious source for much of our lexical innovation, like it or not.”
So said Ben Zimmer, an American linguist, lexicographer, and language commentator. He is the executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, and is a language columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He worked formerly as the editor of American dictionaries at Oxford University Press wrote at Language Log, Ben has been devoting his time to an exciting online dictionary called Vocabulary.com Dictionary. He also shares a column for a site called Word Routes. He participated in the choosing of the ‘Word of the Year’ at the American Dialect Society’s annual conference in Minneapolis. Click here to review the nominees. Finally the American pick was “because” winning over “selfie”!
So what is a ‘selfie’? Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
selfie noun, informal
(also selfy; plural selfies)
Definition: a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
Probably the most famous selfie so far in American culture was the picture that Ellen Degeneres took of herself at friends at the annual Academy Awards Ceremony on March 17, 2014. Of course this ‘selfie’ was put on Twitter (@TheEllenShow/Twitter) and the tweet was sent more than 3,400,000 times as a ‘retweet’ beating Obama’s ‘retweet’ (@BarackObama).
Ellen’s selfie shows Hollywood stars including (from left) Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, DeGeneres, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o and her brother, Peter Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie (with her face half obscured). DeGeneres tweeted the picture on her own account and captioned it: “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars”.
In barely a half an hour, it had already reached 779,295 thus beating Obama’s tweeted image of “Four more years” which was “retweeted” only 780,195 times.
Of course the next day, CBS’s “Good Morning America” (GMA) reported on this major social phenomenon in a morning news segment:
retweet noun, informal; also to retweet verb
(also tweet, twitter message; plural retweets)
Here’s Ellen the next day commenting on the ‘selfie’ which literally “shut down Twitter.com”:
Of course to keep the social networks abuzz, a lot of people tweeted that Ellen had made a lot of money for Samsung. Actually…Ellen announced the day on March 3 after on her post-oscar live episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that Samsung was going to donate $3 million to charity since they had gotten so much ‘free’ publicity at the Oscars. Ellen has decided to share the money between St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Humane Society of the United States…children and animals who are among the most vulnerable members of our society! Now that’s really worth ‘retweeting’!