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Monday, January 9, 2012

Why is Rock Paper Scissors also called Roshambo?


Search
: roshambo

Why: Somebody said it on the teevee last night. I can't be sure who.

Answer: It's named after Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau! Whom? Why, the commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Force who helped George Washington and the Continental Army during the American Revolution! What a pal! But the thing is that nobody really knows why "Rock Paper Scissors" is associated with him. Oh well. Maybe it's just that his name has 3 syllables.

So instead of the real answer, here are some facts & theories about the origins of Rock Paper Scissors:
  • The first written record of the game is from 200 BC in Japan, where the name is Jan-ken-pon (or just Jan-ken). Ken means "fist."
  • Or it actually originated in the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 CE), called Shoushiling.
  • The "game" (wut? it's not a game!) is based on 2 older games:
  • San sukumi ken, something about "the freezing aspects of a snake, frog, and slug with fear"
  • Su ken, a numbers+competing game with fingers, maybe just like the ancient Greek / Roman game Morra)
  • It started in Africa, where early man invented tools.
  • It was an ancient Scandinavian pastime that spread to Europe.
  • It was a traditional Celtic game that spread to Europe in the 6th century BC via settlers in Portugal, where it was called Pihedra, Papelsh e Tijhera.
Source: The Straight Dope, Wikipedia

The More You Know: Some variations on RPS:
  • In Japan - chief of village, (kills) tiger, (eats) mother of chief (beats chief)
  • In Indonesia - elephant, (crushes) person, (crushes) ant (crawls in elephant's ear and drives it crazy)
  • In Myanmar - general, gun, raising hands
  • In Vietnam - hammer, nail, wrapping
Also! this creature called the side-blotched lizard has this weird mating behavior that peeps call the "rock-paper-scissors strategy." The boy lizards are either orange, yellow, or blue, and it plays out like this with the ladies:
  • Orange-throated males are the biggest, blue-throated the middle, and yellow-throated the smallest.
  • Orange ones beat blue.
  • Blue beats yellow.
  • Yellow ones are small and their coloring mimics that of females. While the orange ones are fighting the blue ones, the yellow ones sneak in and steal their wimmens away!
NSFW.

3 comments:

Prnt Scrn said...

I thought it was from south park http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103724/rochambeau

Oops, knowledge gained

Melissa said...

ctm "NSFW"...there is also: dog (pees on) fire hydrent (wrecks) car (hits dog)

gasp!

Steve G. said...

Because I'm awesome, I watch a lot of Game Show Network. And one of their commercial spots is all about a guy in a Captain America suit winning the rock-paper-scissors championship. I was so intrigued that I had to look up whether such a thing exists. (bt-dubs, it does totally exist.)

The commercial isn't really that great though. And South Park is also where I first learned it was also called roshambo.

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