Innovation

Geek Trivia: The quibble of the week for March 24, 2009

This week's quibble comes from the March 10, 2009 edition of Geek Trivia, "First down and three (laws of robotics)." TechRepublic member samwise51 questioned the described etymology of the word robot.

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the March 10, 2009 edition of Geek Trivia, "First down and three (laws of robotics)." TechRepublic member samwise51 questioned the described etymology of the word robot:

"I believe that the word robot is not derived from the word robotnik, but rather from the word robota. This word robota has Slavic roots, however, I do not know the name of the person who coined the term. In fact, the Slavic word behind robota is orb, which comes from the Indo-European root orbh-, referring to separation from one's group or passing out of one sphere of ownership into another."

Clearly, samwise51 has a firmer grasp of pan-European etymology than me. You are correct. Robotnik was the earliest form of the made-up word in Capek's play "R.U.R.," which popularized the word robot. Robota is the Slavic term from which robotnik and, finally, robot, were derived.

Thanks for the quibble, and keep them coming!

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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