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Why do we say it -

Old 01-25-20, 05:35 PM
  #1  
wphamilton
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Why do we say it -

Why is bicycle pronounced "bi-sickle" but motorcycle is pronounced "motor-sikel"?
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Old 01-25-20, 05:42 PM
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indyfabz
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Why ask why?
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Old 01-25-20, 05:48 PM
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Lotsa tings to yeewonder bout. Just like some say Soda, pop, or coke.
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Old 01-25-20, 06:12 PM
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Arlo Guthrie says motor-sickle here:

Frank Zappa says by-sikel here:
(This is really pretty funny, IMO)
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Old 01-25-20, 06:19 PM
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https://www.******.com/r/explainlike...otorcycle_and/
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Old 01-25-20, 06:32 PM
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@MikeWMass, ya beat me to the Arlo reference!
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Old 01-25-20, 06:46 PM
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Why do we drive on parkways but park on driveways?
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Old 01-25-20, 07:38 PM
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I remember the Steve Allen show with Frank Zappa. He was also on " What's My Line ". I saw Zappa twice, 3 weeks apart, 1973 or '74. First at the Chicago Auditorium and then at NIU Fieldhouse. Great musician and showman. A Lot of props and stage antics.
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Old 01-25-20, 09:05 PM
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r e d d i t.com in that url.
Interesting but I can't buy it, partly because that "unstressed syllable" idea is a crock, and partly because I never hear the referenced schwa sound - it's always a short "i" in bicycle.

Also "sickle: is just as easy to say as "cycle" no matter how many syllables so why isn't it "motorsickle"? I know that some dialects do have motorsickle but why isn't it the normal way? Bicycles obviously predated motorcycles - where did it change?

Last edited by wphamilton; 01-25-20 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 01-25-20, 09:15 PM
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Syllables, and what syllable the stress falls on.

bi-sick-uhl
tri-sick-uhl

mo-tor-sigh-kuhl
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Old 01-25-20, 09:21 PM
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I pronounce it “motorbike.” Problem solved.
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Old 01-25-20, 09:28 PM
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And then I remembered Wesley from 30 Rock, and his use of the non-word "footcycle," which I would say as foot-sigh-kuhl-- with the stress on the middle syllable.

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Old 01-25-20, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Syllables, and what syllable the stress falls on.

bi-sick-uhl
tri-sick-uhl

mo-tor-sigh-kuhl
Insight and encite don't follow that rule.
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Old 01-25-20, 10:47 PM
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Well, "encite" isn't a word. Insight and incite are both words. The former is from the Low German, and the latter from French.

The emphasis is on the first syllable in one and the second in the other, because they have utterly different meanings, and come from different roots.

Motorcycle and bicycle share a suffix, from the same origin.
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Old 01-25-20, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Syllables, and what syllable the stress falls on.

bi-sick-uhl
tri-sick-uhl

mo-tor-sigh-kuhl
Yep.

It's pretty much because it rolls off the tongue better this way.
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Old 01-26-20, 12:08 AM
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a motor biker might be psycho for driving such a small vehicle along with larger motorized vehicles capable of the same speeds.
a cyclists could have poor health, & rather becoming down with a sickness, they choose to ride for better health.
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Old 01-26-20, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Syllables, and what syllable the stress falls on.

bi-sick-uhl
tri-sick-uhl

mo-tor-sigh-kuhl
That's not really a good explanation because one can stress or not stress a long "i" sound. There's definitely a vowel shift in "bicycle" and "tricycle". My guess is that the repeated long "i" sound just sounds awkward to most people.

On the other hand, the word "cyclical" is pronounced with a long i sound by the British, and a short i sound by Americans, but it doesn't come up in conversation very often.
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Old 01-26-20, 05:17 AM
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I sikel on my bi-sickels.
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Old 01-26-20, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Well, "encite" isn't a word. Insight and incite are both words. The former is from the Low German, and the latter from French.

The emphasis is on the first syllable in one and the second in the other, because they have utterly different meanings, and come from different roots.

Motorcycle and bicycle share a suffix, from the same origin.
The explanation presented was based on phonetics, not etymology or spelling ()
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Old 01-26-20, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
That's not really a good explanation because one can stress or not stress a long "i" sound. There's definitely a vowel shift in "bicycle" and "tricycle". My guess is that the repeated long "i" sound just sounds awkward to most people.

On the other hand, the word "cyclical" is pronounced with a long i sound by the British, and a short i sound by Americans, but it doesn't come up in conversation very often.
I dunno, people seem ok with saying "eyesight", with the repeated long i.

I don't think it has anything to do with the phonetic rules (which don't work anyway), nor with etymology especially since both words share origins. Somewhere it changed from sickle to sigh-kal, and it's a puzzle. Keeping me up at night.
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Old 01-26-20, 06:52 AM
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Don’t think I’ve ever thought about it or used either word verbally. I just say bike. If a distinction needs to be made I will say motorbike sport bike mountain bike etc
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Old 01-26-20, 06:59 AM
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Lotta folks around here say "motorsickel"
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Old 01-26-20, 07:22 AM
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So, should people who ride bicycles be called "sicklists?"
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Old 01-26-20, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
So, should people who ride bicycles be called "sicklists?"
Now you've done it, another question to haunt me. If you ride sickles you're a sicklist, just stands to reason.
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Old 01-26-20, 07:46 AM
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