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Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It (full episode)
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2011/07/28
2:34am
tromboniator
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First half of my life (so far) in New York (State), second half in Alaska: I’ve never heard anyone, anywhere, even in jest, use a short i in tricycle, nor a long i in unicycle. What baffles me is why the y in bicycle and tricycle is pronounced like a short i, but in unicycle and motorcycle it’s a long one.

2011/07/28
5:10am
Glenn
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My guess about the long and short y in cycle has to do with syllabic stress. In the historical versions where the stress immediately precedes the y, there would be a push to shorten the y vowel. When the preceding stress is more distant, then the y receives secondary stress.

BI-cy-cle
TRI-cy-cle

MO-tor-CY-cle
U-ni-CY-cle
EX-er-CY-cle
GI-ga-CY-cle
HE-mi-CY-cle
re-CY-cle
A-qua-CY-cle
HY-dro-CY-cle

However, as far as newly formed compound words are concerned, I suspect we would treat the cycle part as a separate word, and employ a fixed stress on the y, regardless of preceding stress patterns. Batman might ride a Batcycle, pronounced BAT-CY-cle, and not a BAT-cy-cle, which sounds like a frozen bat, or the result of a successful attack by Mr. Freeze.

2011/07/28
8:30am
Theowyn
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Lee and Tromboniator, I meant the short ‘i’ sound in ‘cycle’ which is the common part in all these words.

Glenn, thank you for that explanation. That makes a lot of sense.

2011/07/28
10:46am
Lee
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Theowyn said:

Lee and Tromboniator, I meant the short ‘i’ sound in ‘cycle’ which is the common part in all these words.

Glenn, thank you for that explanation. That makes a lot of sense.


Ah! I was wondering where you found an (actual) ‘i’ in motorcycle :-) That should have clued me in to the fact that you were referring to the pronunciation of the ‘y’…

Yes – thanks, Glenn!

2011/07/29
9:21am
DeadBeatPope
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Lee said:

Theowyn said:

Bike is already loaded enough in that it refers to both bicycles and motorcycles. Please, let’s not start adding unicycles and tricycles as well!


DO you think bike would buckle under such duty?

I am not satisfied with the wiki definition for velocipede. If people know this word they relate it to the Penny Farthing. Here is another definition though:

Velocipede in English
tricycle; any of various types of early bicycles propelled by pedals attached to the front wheel or by the rider pushing his feet along the ground .

I say uni for unicycle. Most unicyclists do too and that won’t change. I have heard it called a tricycle as often as a bike and have even heard it referred to as a unicorn.

2012/02/25
8:34pm
hippogriff
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Lots of topics this time.

Martha’s bruising from unicycle is from staying on too long. When you lose it, bail out – safer than a bicycle as you don’t have a frame to get tangled in and land on your feet. Large front wheel antique bicycle: unicycle with training wheel.

Etymologically, umbrella (little shadow) and parasol (with the sun) shield from sun, only secondarily from rain.

A fort is a military strong point; for-tay is loud. Why would one name a car “loud”? Like Nova (no go or exploding star) or Vega (brightest star in Lyre[liar]).

Dodge Ram: You have to dodge the Ram. A command, not an oxymoron. Bring back athlon (prize for athletic performance) instead of the oxymoronic athletic scholarship.

Orange: In heraldry tenné, related to tawny, before the fruit arrived.

2012/02/26
5:21pm
sky
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Wish the show I heard today had been updated to reflect the input of this forum… But here’s my take on the eyelid pulling.

Growing up in Southern California in the ’50s-’60s, it was something pretty much universal: to dismiss someone (as in to “diss” them) by pulling down on any cheek below your eye, so as to elongate the eye downward. Especially among the surf crowd, if one of us wanted to say “f*** you” to another in a semi-joking way, we’d pull down the eye. Even on other beaches we’d visit, with the locals there, the intent seemed immediately recognized.

Now how this came to be, I’d figured, was from the culture of jokes, “dirty jokes,” specifically. Perhaps hard to conceive of, these days, but back then most perceived wisdom arrived via jokes. Usually from construction workers — a very large sampling, so many of us young men were divided into either construction worker-employment/mentality or else going to college, and that was a wide gulf separating us. It was an epic phenomena (to use the language of the day), a large cultural “fad,” and I and other students in anthropology in universities I attended used to spot the trends that would move like waves through our culture (pre-hippie), the topics transmitted via these crude, often off-color jokes told over lunch boxes.

The relevant joke here involved a group studying ape communication, how gorillas seemed to be communicating with humans. Koko was the celebrated ape of the day and perhaps propelled the ironic veracity of the joke. Anyway this joke centered around the idea of a joke being played on the zoologists studying the apes’ language, who finally learned that a gesture they thought was affectionate really meant “f you.” The gesture of course was the pulling down of the eye.

There were then — and I assume it continues, somewhere in academia — people studying the influence of joke-telling among blue-collar workers. Important factors have changed in our culture since then (loss of blue-collar dominance, new modes of communication, reliance on media, less humor…), but I thought the topic was fascinating enough that others might be intrigued too.  

2012/03/01
6:39pm
Wichita Falls, TX
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Darn — “neeser” beat me to it. I was going to say the Japanese have a gesture involving pulling down one lower eyelid by placing the index finger on the upper cheekbone and pulling down to expose more of the eye, often sticking out their tongue and making a nyaaaahhh sound.. but I have no idea why. I watch a lot of untranslated, unsubtitles Japanese TV and have seen this dozens of times, but never really knew the context..

2012/03/02
7:39am
rosswood40
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ablestmage said:

Darn — “neeser” beat me to it. I was going to say the Japanese have a gesture involving pulling down one lower eyelid by placing the index finger on the upper cheekbone and pulling down to expose more of the eye, often sticking out their tongue and making a nyaaaahhh sound.. but I have no idea why. I watch a lot of untranslated, unsubtitles Japanese TV and have seen this dozens of times, but never really knew the context..

Don’t they also say baaaka (バカ) while doing it? Sounds almost exactly like buckeye….

2012/03/02
8:16am
rosswood40
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neeser said:

In Japan, kids pull an eyelid, stick their tongue out and make a ‘blergh’ sound, as a way to taunt somebody. I love the ‘buckeye’ bit though, how cool! At my job, we sometimes do it when we’re in a mischievous mood.

Don’t they say baaka with this?

2012/03/02
8:20am
rosswood40
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MarcNaimark said:

Re “buckeye”, I’ve posted in another thread:

The French have the same gesture, pulling down the lower eyelid with the index figure for an index. BUT it has the “opposite” meaning. It doesn’t mean that the person making the gesture has tried to fool the second person, but that the person making the gesture doesn’t believe something said by the second person. It’s more like “yeah, right, I’ll buy that” with a sarcastic tone, or “you’re pulling my leg” or “stop joshing me”. It corresponds to the expression “mon oeil” (my eye). The expression and the gesture can be used together or separately.

They do the same in Israel….

2012/04/05
7:29pm
windwardsailor
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Re: Orange. Martha, you’ll find this especially interesting, if you haven’t heard it yet. In Puerto Rico, the fruit has an unexpected name: china. As a student of Spanish, but not a native speaker, during an extended stay in the west of the island, I heard friends refer to the citrus fruit as una  china. When I asked, they gave me an etymology of sorts, which sounds completely plausible, that the word came from the printing on the crates that originally brought the fruit to the island. I’m not sure if that usage is unique to PR, but I tend to think it is. In Cuba, for example, I didn’t hear china at all, only naranja.

2012/04/05
9:38pm
Ron Draney
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That’s interesting. Lately I’ve been noticing in the bilingual supermarket ads that the Spanish (of the Mexican variety, at least) name for cantaloupe corresponds to “Chinese melon”.

2012/06/12
5:53am
Wichita Falls, TX
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rosswood40 said:

ablestmage said:
Darn — “neeser” beat me to it. I was going to say the Japanese have a gesture involving pulling down one lower eyelid by placing the index finger on the upper cheekbone and pulling down to expose more of the eye, often sticking out their tongue and making a nyaaaahhh sound.. but I have no idea why. I watch a lot of untranslated, unsubtitles Japanese TV and have seen this dozens of times, but never really knew the context..

Don’t they also say baaaka (バカ) while doing it? Sounds almost exactly like buckeye….

Yes, and “baka” means “idiot” =P

I just came back to this thread to offer a pop-culture reference to this gesture.. I’m watching the Alien sequel, Aliens (1986) and the black commanding officer of the marines, after coming out of stasis with the rest of the crew half-dressed and barefoot, has a brief conversation with a subordinate (loosely)..

Subordinate: Ooh, this floor is cold!
Officer: Oh, you want me to fetch you your slippers?
Subordinate: Would you sarge? That’d be great!
Officer: Look into my eye.. (pulls down left eyelid)

2013/01/10
2:42am
jock123
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In re: “Bumbershoot”/ “bumberchute” for “umbrella”, I’d be interested to know why some Americans appear to think it is a British word?
As Martha and Grant discuss in the programme, the word is found in the U.S., not the U.K.; however, the couple of times I’ve come across the term, it has been put, by Americans, into the mouths of British people, apparently to identify them unambiguously as British…
The first time I came across it was as a youngster reading a “Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” book by Michael Avallone, in which seemingly to boost his “Cockney” persona, the character Mark Slate (the eponymous Girl’s British side-kick) is made to mention a bumbershoot.
I have also now just seen a repeat of the Frasier episode “My Coffee with Niles”, in which Daphne expresses thanks to Niles for using the word “bumbershoot”, as an example of her mother tongue – I wonder if Jane Leeves had heard the word before?
Has anyone heard this being said in the U.K., and does anyone have an example of it being used by Americans, in America, as American English, rather than cod British?

2013/01/12
9:32am
Robert
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If they made actors say “Bumbershoot” ,“bumberchute” to suggest Britishness, they would certainly succeed on me, though I cannot explain why- they just sound British. If the actor played an American, I would find that very peculiar.

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