Over on the American Dialect Society e-mail list, a conversation has come up about that hand-shape game in which a fist beats a 'V' sign, a flat hand beats a fist, and a 'V' sign beats a flat hand. You, of course, know what I mean (having read the title), but it's called a lot of different things. The original query on the ADS list wondered about American variations on the name. Most Americans call it Rock, Paper, Scissors, but some call it Rock, Scissors, Paper. (We also discovered that it's also called Roshambo or Rochambeau and one Missourian grew up calling it by its Japanese name, Jan Ken Pon. Apparently, in China and Japan it involves cloth, rather than paper.)
The most common BrE name for this game is Paper, Scissors, Stone. An Australian on the web says that (s)he's always known it as Paper, Scissors, Rock.
As with almost any game, there is a world association and world championships. I note that it's called the World RPS Society--using the American order. They say:
One of the mandates of the World RPS Society is name harmonization, so we would encourage all players to use the term Rock Paper Scissors or its short form RPS. We feel that this is the best way of helping the sport to grow in the future.North American linguistic imperialism at work? Here's the (apparently fictional--see comments) story from their website:
The Paper Scissors Stone Club was founded in London, England in 1842 immediately following the issuance of the1842 law declaring “any decision reached by the use of the process known as Paper Scissors Stone between two gentleman acting in good faith shall constitute a binding contract. Agreements reached in this manner are subject to all relevant contract and tort law.” The law was seen as a slap in the face to the growing number of enthusiasts who played it strictly as a recreational activity, since for many constables it was taken to mean that the game could not be played simply for sport. The club was founded and officially registered to provide an environment free from the long arm of the law where enthusiasts could come together and play for honour.These are people who feel strongly about words, as well as about their game!
[...] In 1918, the name was changed to World RPS Club in to reflect the growing International representation. At roughly the same time the Club moved its headquarters from London to its present location at Trinity Plaza in Toronto, Canada. Despite the allied victory, the official reason for the move was “England is far too dangerous a place to make a suitable home country for a game of conflict resolution.” Canada was seen as an excellent choice since it was seen as a “safe, hospitable and utterly inoffensive nation, a part of the commonwealth, yet not inhabited by the descendants of criminals.”
In 1925 when the club briefly reached over 10,000 members, the name was changed again to The World RPS Society. The Steering Committee felt that since the membership had reached a new order of magnitude the term club was seen to be “inappropriate, misleading, and mocking.”
According to the website (very nice photos!), Norway is in the midst of its national championship, and there it's called Stein, Saks, Papir ('stone, scissors, paper'). Apparently, they've not been bullied into calling it Stein, Papir, Saks.