Today, the news that the OED had decided to make the word ‘selfie’ their word of the year hit the internet. There will always be those people who furiously defend the right to ‘a proper English language’, and contrary to popular belief, these people are often young. But for the most part, the revelation has been met with praise – and why shouldn’t it?
For a start, to say we should ‘protect’ English is ridiculous in itself. English is not one solid thing that can be protected, for it is a dynamic, woven fabric of so many different languages and ideas. But also, it isn’t an antique which we should be shielding behind glass and allowing to collect dust. English is a living language, and whilst people are still using it, people will always find ways to make it better serve their purpose.
Secondly, selfie is a new word because the concept is a fairly new one. Selfies have gained popularity with social media because we now have the technology at our fingertips to take and share ‘selfies’ easily. Let’s face it, in the Victorian times, selfies were a lot harder, with difficult to develop film and long-distance buttons. The English language didn’t have a word for a selfie, because a selfie didn’t exist in the same way it does today. Why shouldn’t we recognise a word that has increased in usage by 17000%?
To solidify the language is to kill it, so rather than groan at how ‘proper English’ (which let’s face it, is just a vague concept) is dying, why don’t we just be grateful that it has the opportunity to evolve instead.