Vape Is The New Selfie: What The 2014 Word Of The Year Says About Our Times

Lindsay Lohan, Katy Perry, Barry Manilow and Ronnie Wood all do it, and now it’s Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. Vape: to suck on an electronic cigarette. If you vape, you are a “vaper” (for obvious reasons, no one thought “vapist” was a good idea); and the act of doing so – perhaps in a “vaporium” – is “vaping”. (In fact, “vaping” was coined as long ago as 1983, when such devices were as yet a pipe-dream.)

Associated vape-vocab noticed by Oxford includes “e-cigarette”, “e-juice” (the nicotinous liquid inside), and the pleasing retrospective formation “tobacco cigarette”, so people will know what you mean when referring to what used to be just a “cigarette”. Technically, this is called a retronym, as when people began to say “landline” when mobile phones were invented; or when restaurants began to offer “hen’s eggs” once foodists had moved on to scoffing the eggs of ostriches and probably ants.

A well-chosen word of the year tells us something about the cultural conversation over the past 12 months. As Oxford Dictionaries chief Casper Grathwohl remarks: “This year ‘vape’ sat at the centre of several rich conversations: the debate over private versus community rights; regulation and public health; and our relationship to our visible vices.” So, to look back over 10 years of such lists might be one way to plot a cultural narrative, or at least thrill to our remembered linguistic innocence, before everyone knew what it meant to vape while twerking.

Read full article @ The Guardian