Mar 2, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: Words from the Future

Science fiction has brought us a number of new words. Let's check out a few, shall we?

The word robot is actually a translation from a 1920s play "Rossum's Universal Robots" by Karel Kapek. It comes from the Czech robotnik, "slave." The noun robotics is attributed to Asimov (you know, as in the three laws of robotics). Android, from Latin androides, from Greek andro- "male" + eides "shaped," is older, from 1837, it meant an automaton resembling a human being, originally referring to automated chess players. It was popularised by science fiction writers in the 1950s.

We can't forget the ansible, which Ursula Le Guin coined from "answerable" for her book's interstellar communication needs.

Cyberspace is a fairly new word, invented by William Gibson of Neuromancer fame for a short story in 1982. The prefix cyber was borrowed from cybernetics, which comes from Greek kybernetes "steersman, guide."

Spaceship is from 1894, from John Jacob Astor's "A Journey in Other Worlds." Space, as an astronomical term, has been used as early as the 1600s, perhaps from Paradise Lost, but many compound were invented by science fiction authors, like spacecraft (1928 Popular Science), space station (1936 "Rockets Through Space"), and spaceman (1942, Thrilling Wonder Stories). The word astronaut is of French descent,  coined from aéronautique by Belgian-born science fiction writer Boex.

Telepathy, from Greek tele+pathy "feeling from afar" is an exception. This term was invented by psychologist Frederick Myers in1882.

So that's it for this week. Interesting stuff. Language is always shifting and changing. Apparently there's a new word created every 98 minutes. Got a good one in mind? Post it in the comments.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello, stranger. What's on your mind?