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  • Mysteries of vernacular:

  • Robot,

  • a machine capable of carrying out

  • a programmable series of actions.

  • The origin of the word robot

  • dates back more than a thousand years

  • to the era of serfdom in central Europe

  • when servitude was the currency for rent.

  • In those days,

  • the Old Church Slavonic word rabota

  • described the forced labor of the people.

  • A slight adjustment of spelling,

  • and rabota became the Czech robota,

  • which, in addition to defining the toil of the serfs,

  • was also used figuratively

  • to describe any kind of hard work or drudgery.

  • In 1920, Czech writer Karel Capek published

  • a science fiction play called "R.U.R.",

  • short for "Rossum's Universal Robots."

  • The story featured automated machines

  • with distinctly human features

  • that, until they revolt,

  • catered to the whims of the people of Earth.

  • Capek originally considered

  • calling these hard-working machines labori

  • from the Latin word for labor,

  • but he worried it sounded a bit too scholarly.

  • He opted, instead, to emphasize their enslaved state

  • by naming them roboti,

  • or robot in English.

  • "R.U.R." was wildly successful,

  • and when it was translated into English in 1923,

  • the word robot was enthusiastically embraced.

  • Though most of today's robots look

  • quite different than Capek imagined,

  • they've become just as popular as he predicted.

  • Unlike in "R.U.R.", though,

  • our robots haven't risen up against us,

  • and here's hoping it stays that way!

Mysteries of vernacular:

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B2 TED-Ed robot czech labor programmable enslaved

【TED-Ed】Mysteries of vernacular: Robot - Jessica Oreck and Rachael Teel

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    姚易辰 posted on 2014/02/13
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