January 05, 2007

Pluto got plutoed, but it still won WOTY

Breaking news from Anaheim, where the American Dialect Society is holding its annual meeting: the winner of the 2006 Word of the Year vote is (drum roll, please)... plutoed. To pluto, as the ADS press release states, means "to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet."

Pluto actually received a double accolade in Anaheim. The American Name Society (which, like the ADS, holds its annual meeting in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America) selected Pluto as its Name of the Year. ANS President Cleveland Evans said, “Our members believe the great emotional reaction of the public to the demotion of Pluto shows the importance of Pluto as a name. We may no longer believe in the Roman god Pluto, but we still have a sense of personal connection with the former planet."

Perhaps it was this "personal connection" that swayed the ADS and ANS voters, who felt compassion for Pluto's sad relegation to "dwarf planet" status. Or perhaps it had something to do with the selections taking place so close to Disneyland.

If you'd like to relive the plutoing of Pluto, check out the extensive Language Log coverage here:

"Gay marriage and counting the planets" (8/17/06)
"The Planet Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli" (8/20/06)
"New planet mnemonic: Language Log is there for you" (8/20/06)
"Piling on 'pluton'" (8/21/06)
"Good-bye plutons, hello Plutonian objects" (8/23/06)
"Iceballs, revisability, language, and intelligent life in the universe" (8/23/06)
"Pluto is a dwarf planet, but not a planet" (8/24/06)
"New planetary definition a 'linguistic catastrophe'!" (8/25/06)
"Dwarf planets and California lilacs" (8/25/06)
"Make Very Excellent Mnemonics: Just Start Using Noggin!" (8/25/06)
"A bad week for the lord of the underworld" (8/28/06)
"Taxonation without representation" (9/14/06)

[Update, 1/8/07: Don't trust the widely circulated Associated Press article on the WOTY vote. Details here.]

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at January 5, 2007 11:07 PM