Today's linguistic speculation: robot/arbeid/travail by mattsteinglass
June 25, 2010, 3:17 am
Filed under: Language

My friend Sue Legro, who lives in Prague, started out an email with a quote about gardening from Karel Capek, which made me think of the origins of the word “robot” in the Slavic root “rabot” for “work”. (Russian rabotat’, “to work”.) For a moment I thought, well, there’s one of those Slavic roots that isn’t the same as any of the more Western Indo-European families. What does “rabot” have to do with “work” (from German or Dutch werk)?

And then I thought, wait—German and Dutch arbeit/arbeid, “labor”, has the r-b-t/d root that’s probably the same as the Slavic r-b-t. Take it over to the Latin tongues, French: travailler, or Spanish trabar. That r-b root is probably also related to the Slavic and Germanic r-b-t/d.

Right? Probably. I’m not even going to bother looking it up; anybody who knows I’m wrong, please let me know.


1 Comment so far
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Robot mach Frei makes a lot more sense.

Comment by citifieddoug

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