Guberspace

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From Ted Byfield (@tbfld):

If [Norbert Wiener, who is credited with the term "cybernetics,"] had relied on Latin (gubernaculum) rather than Greek (???????????) to name #cybernetics we'd be in guberspace right now.

Thanks to Prof. Jonathan Weinberg for the pointer.

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  1. Amazing the things you can learn here on the Interblag!

  2. It would not have caught on, but if it did it would be “kubernetics.”

    The “goo” sound by itself has loong been considered unappealing in the American dialect space, and add the mid century popularity of the word “goober” and it kubernetics was not even stillborn. Of course the possibility that a man named Norbert Winer was intimately aware of the book of consonants and went with cybernetics with this in mind. The s- sound initial has long been associated with prestigious pursuits, psychology, sociology, psephology, and eve pseudo-science.

    1. Never overlook the possibility that word association has changed entire nomenclatures. I can describe myself as a soil scientist, my field is pedology, I love soils, but the very existence of another word has hindered an entire field of study.

      My particular interest is the study of paleosols, a relatively obscure subject that once gave Nabakov the opportunity for a fantastic joke about his protaganist at the beginning of his most famous work.

    2. Yeah, that’s why Google has been such a spectacular failure in the market and why no one would ever consider verbing the company name. It’s just much too unappealing a sound…

      1. Google was a cute and ridiculous seeming, at the time, and incomprehensible number popularized by Carl Sagan in the 1970s, precisely because it sounded silly, by 2000 it was the sort of “scientific fact” universally known by most clever 4th graders, and thus perfect for its purpose.

        If you don’t believe me look on youtube for Sagan saying it on Cosmos.

  3. Wasn’t Goober Space the name of an auto mechanic shop on the Andy Griffith Show?

    1. Goober’s brother turned out to be a NASA engineer.

    2. I think it was an auto mechanics shop in Cambridge, Mass. run by a pair of wisecracking brothers.

      1. Do you mean Clique and Claque, the Racket Brothers?. They still corrupt auto technology.

    3. No, it’s the more refined term for the Peanut Gallery on the Howdy Doody Show.

    4. I’m surprised Kirkland hasn’t chimed in yet to say that it’s the name of this blog.

  4. Kirkland hardest hit.

  5. Gooberspace is a more fitting name these days.

  6. One wonders what the Germans might have come up with.

    The German word for butterfly is schmetterling.

    Or so the Germans would have us believe.

  7. Ha! I finally find out the origin of the name “Kubernetes”, the container-manager software! (more at kubernetes.io.) Apparently the Greek version, ??????????, can mean either “captain” or “governor”.

    I would never have guessed that “kuber” and “cyber” are transliterations of the same Greek source. So now my question is this: wtf? I know “cerberus” and “kerberos” are the same, but did we just discover in the last 30 years that it should have been a hard “c” all along? And how did “u” and “y” get conflated?

    I give up. It’s all Greek to me.

    1. And upper-New England basketball fans have, unknowingly, been rooting all this time for the Boston Keltics.

    2. Blame the Vulgar Latin dialects. They changed the hard c into a soft one and once Classical Latin came into vogue for the elites of the Middle Ages began pronouncing Classical Latin more like their own Romance languages. We took our pronunciation guide from the French, explaining why we do it.

  8. Actually, “Eating Goober Peas” was a marching song associated with the Georgia militia in the Civil War. It refers to peanuts. Jimmy Carter springs to mind, of course.

    1. Yet every time he came to town they played Marching through Georgia…That cracked my Minnesota grandpa up every time.

  9. Would it have been ruled by gubernatorial powers?

    And most importantly, would it have led to gonads?

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