Tag Archives: science fiction

Karel Čapek

When I was listening to the the new episode of SGU, I was pleasantly surprised by Rebecca’s choice for the “This day in skepticism” segment. She picked the following event:

Feb 11, 1938     BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Capek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”.

Here I would like to mention few inaccuracies. First of all, the name of the Czech author is originally spelled as Karel Čapek, hence the name is pronounced as /Chappeck/ rather than /Kappeck/ (you can check the correct pronunciation at Wikipedia). Second imperfection is connected to the etymology of the word “robot”. Rebecca said that it is a Czech expression for a slave, which is quite close, but I will still allow myself to be a bit more nerdy about it. The word “robot” comes from “robota”, an old Slavonic term for a hard manual labor, which more specifically referred to the forced labor all subjects had to do for their lord. So no slaves, but subjects. Further, even though Karel Čapek was the first who used “robot” in his play, he actually is not the author of the term. In fact, it was his brother, Josef, who suggested this neologism, as an alternative to Karel’s original “labor”. Read more of this post