Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pluto's Reality Show Cousins

I was thrilled when plutoed was voted Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. Passive participles don't always get the attention they deserve! But there's hope: As a fan of Bravo TV's Project Runway, I noticed that plutoed has some cousins in reality TV land. A contestant who is eliminated from Project Runway (a show in which designers have to create garments, sometimes out of plants or grocery store items) gets aufed. The verb gets its name from the German host's (Heidi Klum) goodbye phrase Auf Wiedersehen. There are many discussion forums and blogs in which aufed is used quite naturally as a passive participle, and people have no idea what auf actually means, nor do they seem to mind. Brilliant.

But the phenomenon is more general: When Project Runway was replaced by Top Chef (same concept, except this time contestants prepare a meal), bloggers were looking for a new word to describe the elimination process. They came up with oeufed, after the French word for egg. Again, brilliant. However, the word seemed too complicated to spell (and also too much of an insider joke) and most people settled on the homier knived. [Edited to add: Not sure about the voiced fricative, but the sendoff phrase is "Pack your knives and go"]

The youngest member of the plutoed family is the word used for elimination of a contestant in Bravo's latest reality show, Top Design. One of the show's judges uses the (lame) sendoff phrase "See you later, decorator" - and so the passive participle latered was born.

Passive participles of the world, unite!


Mr. Verb said...

Wow, plutoesque verbing on TV too?!?!?!? Suuuu-weeet.

Ben Zimmer said...

I like aufed a lot -- I even put it on my ADS WOTY nomination list. But I wasn't familiar with oeufed or latered. Guess I have to watch more competitive reality TV.

Stumblerette said...

So, with all the getting aufed, plutoed, oeufed, and latered -- is it true that the get-passive is particularly suited for events that are perceived as unpleasant? It's a claim I find over and over in the literature, and yes, there are many get-passives of that kind (getting hurt/killed/fired), but is it really part of the meaning of the construction? I'm still doubtful, after all, one can get promoted, or a problem can get solved.