Apart from Far Right efforts to legislate against the use of Spanish in American public life, it is not often that a linguistic topic becomes one of the top headlines of the day. But this month, one of the headlines read: “’Selfie’ Tops ‘Twerk’ as Oxford’s Word of the Year.”
The folks at Oxford collect about 150,000,000 words of English from written sources and the Internet each month and scan them for usage patterns. To earn the top spot, “selfie” increased in usage by 17,000% from 2011 to 2012.
Immediately, I imagined James Murray, the editor who oversaw the development of the Oxford English Dictionary, not just rolling over but actually spinning in his grave.
Besides “selfie” and “twerk,” here are the other words that made the “shortlist” (it seems that every list related to language and literature must now imitate the Booker Prize):
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