Tuesday, 1 January 2008

robot etymology

I saw on some website (http://www.takeourword.com/arc_logi.html) a question about the word "cyborg".
Perhaps more interesting is the origin of "robot".

Karel Čapek (1890-1938) popularised the word first, he was a Czech writer.
He credits his brother Josef as the inventor of "robot".


"The word first appeared in the play RUR published in 1920."
R.U.R. - Rossum's Universal Robots


"The word robot comes from the word robota meaning literally serf labor,
and, figuratively, "drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech and Slovak.
The origin of the word is the Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude"
("work" in contemporary Russian), which in turn comes from the Indo-European
root *orbh-. Robot is cognate with the German word Arbeiter (worker)."


Text of play RUR here. And of War with the Newts. WWTN I had bought years ago and didn't read
until ... well, a couple of years ago (when I was still in Doolin). I quite like retro-sci-fi.
Capek's newts and the robots are animal/human (or closer to animal anyway than are mechanical bots).
Interesting anyway.

No comments: