Tuesday, 18 December 2007

orphan and robot

Proto-Indo-European *h₃erbh- "to change allegiance or status". The suffixed form *orbh-o- meaning "bereft of father" or "deprived of free status" became ancient Greek ὀρφανός orphanós "orphaned". This became English orphan thru Late Latin.

It also became Old Slavic *orbŭ, then Old Church Slavonic рабъ rabŭ "slave" (a perjoration of "changed status"), then работа rabota "servitude", then Czech robota "drudgery, compulsory service". The Czech writer Karel Čapek's 1921 play R.U.R. was the first appearance of the word robot meaning "mechanical servant". Karel named his brother Josef as the inventor of the word.

CHEAP LABOR. ROSSUM'S ROBOTS.
ROBOTS FOR THE TROPICS. 150 DOLLARS EACH.
EVERYONE SHOULD BUY HIS OWN ROBOT.
DO YOU WANT TO CHEAPEN YOUR OUTPUT?
ORDER ROSSUM'S ROBOTS

- Karel Čapek, R.U.R. Act I, Simon and Schuster, 1973

From the same root are German Arbeit "work", Old English earfoþ "difficulty, hardship", and Latin orbus "bereft".

1 comment :

tomisimo.org said...

I enjoy reading your posts about language and etymology. Thanks :)