Hostel decorations: Equity Point Prague’s “Karel Capek’s robot”

What we are going to do these weeks is to show you how we have decorated the hostel. Equity Point in Prague is becoming a sort of museum and we want to celebrate the opening of the hostel explaining you the history of each paintings. Characters are very unusual and we would like to arouse your curiosity, so stay tuned!

Karel Capek’s robot

“ROBOT” (Printed; room 405)The word “robot” was introduced to the public by the Czech interwar writer Karel Capek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), published in 1920.

The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, though they are closer to the modern ideas of androids, creatures who can be mistaken for humans.

They can plainly think for themselves, though they seem happy to serve. At issue is whether the robots are being exploited and the consequences of their treatment.
Karel Capek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother, the painter and writer Josef Capek, as its actual originator.
In an article in the Czech journal Lidové noviny in 1933, he explained that he had originally wanted to call the creatures labo?i (“workers”, from Latin labor). However, he did not like the word, and sought advice from his brother Josef, who suggested “roboti”.

The word robota means literally “corvée”, “serf labor”, and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work” in Czech and also (more general) “work”, “labor” in many Slavic languages (e.g.: Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Polish, Macedonian, Ukrainian, archaic Czech).

Traditionally the robota was the work period a serf (corvée) had to give for his lord, typically 6 months of the year. The origin of the word is the Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) rabota “servitude” (“work” in contemporary Bulgarian and Russian), which in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *orbh-. Robot is cognate with the German root Arbeit.

Who will be the next one?!

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