All My Base Are Belong To You

Numeric base, that is.

So far, for the most part, I have been handling this via Translation Convention, since exactitude has not been of crucial importance, and expecting people who care about such things to pick up that for a people who use duodecimal (base-12) notation, a century is naturally 144 years, a millennium 1,728, etc., etc.

This has been seeming to me increasingly inadequate, given potential and real confusion when I talk about lengths of time, etc., using my authorial voice rather than in-character, as well as differences between metaphorical and literal usages, and so on and so forth.

Where it has now broken down completely is in writing a piece involving people using two different number bases, in which an duodecimal millennium (1,728 years) and an octal millennium (512 years) aren’t even close to the same thing, and neither, for that matter, is particularly close to a decimal millennium. That’s stretching it even for metaphorical purposes.

And I would prefer not to just start dropping numbers in untranslated Eldraeic, etc., into the text, because that’s something that has no correspondence or roots at all for the English-speaking reader to figure out.

So I’m thinking of coining some new English words for use in an updated Translation Convention, such that things can be made clear. Or at least consistent.

Power Decimal Duodecimal Octal
x1 ten dodectave (12) octave (8)
x2 hundred dodecen (144) octcen (64)
x3 thousand dodeciad (1,728) octiad (512)
x6 million grand dodeciad (2,985,984) grand octiad (262,144)

(I’m not using “dozen” for 12 in duodecimal because I suspect that that would lead people to believe that they’re counting by twelves in base ten, which is misleading. Much the same reasoning applies to “gross” for 144, and also that “grossury” as a period of time sounds like a place you buy unpleasant food.

Instead, for time, we have the “dodecentury” and the “dodecennium”, which should parse better and are at least reasonably euphonious.)

Naturally, there’ll be footnotes and a numeric appendix in published works for those encountering these coinages for the first time.

Comments and thoughts, anyone?

 

2 thoughts on “All My Base Are Belong To You

  1. I’m not using “dozen” for 12 in duodecimal because I suspect that that would lead people to believe that they’re counting by twelves in base ten, which is misleading. Much the same reasoning applies to “gross” for 144, and also that “grossury” as a period of time sounds like a place you buy unpleasant food.

    Honestly, “dodec-” derivatives aren’t really that much better in this regard, since it still breaks down literally to “two-and-ten.”

    That said, in line with what Jade has said, given there’s no really good option in that regard, it might be the best compromise between a straight translation and unglossed eldraeic.

    (Much like how I’ve never really been comfortable with all the various things people have come up with in trying to create a universal non-gendered third-person singular pronoun; even though I acknowledge that we really need one, none of them ever really sound right to me, so I just generally go with singular “they.”)

    Liked by 1 person

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