avatarsWhile reading PoPCo, by Scarlett Thomas, I learnt that the word “avatar”, which refers to an Internet user’s alter ego in online forums and other communities, comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “descent of a deity to the Earth in incarnate form”.
According to Wikipedia, it was popularised by Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (1992):

While Stephenson was not the first to apply the Sanskrit term avatar to online virtual bodies (the video game Habitat did that), the success of Snow Crash popularized the term to the extent that avatar is now the accepted term for this concept in computer games and on the World Wide Web.

I think I know what my next book will be.
Image: Vishnu with his 10 avatars (incarnations): Matsya, Kûrma, Varâha, Narasimha, Vâmana, Parashurâma, Râma with the Ax, Râma, Krishna, Bouddha and Kalki.

By | 2009-11-20T11:17:28+00:00 November 20th, 2009|Words|1 Comment

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.

One Comment

  1. Tony December 17, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Like Vishnu, I’ve got ten of these, but I have a better word for them http://omf.blogspot.com/2009/11/gang-of-ten.html
    Happy Christmas from them all.

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