The Way We Say It

oxford dictionariesAnother word, and the 1st photo, for the ‘selfie’ list

By Alan Tristram

Following Oxford Dictionaries’ announcement that ‘selfie’ is their ‘Word of The Year,’ an Englishman has followed with a derivative — ‘Elsie.’

Writing in the Times, Peter Sergeant, of Hathern in  Leicestershire, says:

“In the light of the neologism ‘selfie’, may I suggest that a photograph of someone else is known as an ‘elsie’?”

The term ‘selfie’ was invented in 2002 when an Australian chap posted a picture of himself on an internet forum and called it a ‘selfie’.

While devices for taking photos of oneself have been available for many years before the proliferation of smartphones responsible for this phenomenon, the history of the selfie dates back to the origins of photography itself.selfie

As the Public Domain Review notes, the first recorded instance of the selfie harkens back to what may have been the first photographic portrait.

In 1839, a young Philadelphia chemist named Robert Cornelius stepped out of his family’s store and took this photograph (right) of himself:

He took the image by removing the lens cap and then running [into the] frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back he wrote ‘The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.’

Cornelius’ striking self-portrait was, apparently, indicative of his knack for photography; an entry in Godey’s Lady’s Book from 1840 reads:

… As a Daguerreotypist his specimens are the best that have yet been seen in this country, and we speak this with a full knowledge of the specimens shown here by Mr. Gouraud, purporting to be, and no doubt truly, by Daguerre himself. We have seen many specimens by young Cornelius, and we pronounce them unsurpassable—they must be seen to be appreciated.