This was raised in another thread and was a bit off-topic so I’ve started a new thread for it…
Is English the only language to distinguish between a monocycle (in English means a single-wheeled vehicle where the rider sits inside the wheel) and a unicycle (rider on top of the wheel)?
I know in some languages, such as French, monocycle means the same as unicycle in English, but is there another word for what we call a monocycle? Do any other languages have two separate words for these types of one-wheeled machines?
I’d have to read up on it, but the possible origin of the distinction between those two words for English may be Dr. Jack Wiley, in his 1973 The Unicycle Book. This distinction has been accepted by the unicycling community (and at least a few of the monocycle people I’ve heard from).
Unicycling is generally less “advanced” or at least talked about in most countries, so the need for a distinction may not have come up. I remember in 1983 Jean Ascher (of Cirkus Changhigh) told me there were three different ways to say “unicycle” in Danish, and that none was “official.” I suggested to him that establishing an official one was up to him, as he was starting up an organization called the Dansk (Unicycle) Union. From what I see on the Unicon XIV web site, they are now using the one Jean mentioned he preferred, “unicykel.”
So you think it’s that recent a distinction then? That’s interesting. A few people of my parents’ generation have called my unicycles “monocycles”, but if the distinction is really that recent then they are not “wrong” after all - perhaps until the early '70s the two words were used interchangably.
are there purists around (Ms Ayelery?) to note that “unicycle” is a strange build mixing roman and greek roots (“monocycle” is more orthogonal). - we are not using “duocycles” -
Someone from Malta posted a word in maltese that looked to me a mix of different origins (arabic and roman: but those islanders are used to such “lingua franca”).
as usual german is logic with “einrad”.
some creative slang will be welcomed to create a new word!
I can’t remember. The third one may not have been used by anyone, but may have been another possible way to say it, such as monocykel or something. You can always try contacting Jean Ascher for the “full” story… http://users.cybercity.dk/~dko4700/
Interesting that in France, the official word is monocycle, yet in Quebec (French speaking Canada) they use Unicyclette. May not be “official”, seeing as how Canada even now doesn’t have a national unicycling organization, but that’s what they used back when they hosted Unicons V and VI.
Liguistically, “mono” comes from the Greek “mons” (alone), while “bi” is from the Latin “bis” (twice). “Bi” as a Greek root is from “bios” (life), and is not numeric (biology, etc.). “Tri” actually has both Greek (“treis”, three) and Latin (“tres”, three) roots.
“Uni” is from the Latin “unus” (one).
So it seems the French have it wrong; it makes more logical linguistic sense to use “uni” as the parallel to “bi” and “tri” than to use “mono.” Or else we should be riding duocycles.