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?


Trope-a-Day: Deadly Decadent Court

Deadly Decadent Court: Half true.  The Court of Courts and its lesser cousins certainly qualify as decadent, inasmuch as (a) those actually involved in the business of government at that level are very generously remunerated in order to (i) remove some of the incentive problems, and (ii) keep up the sort of appearances that make them look like the sort of people you ought to follow, and (b) the Privy Council and other courtiers, even many if by no means all of the entrenotres, tend to be drawn from the Names, Numbers, and Novas, which is to say, the core lineages, plutocrats, and innovative geniuses.  Which is further to say, the most outrageously wealthy segment of an already outrageously wealthy society – and one which never evolved most of our quaint hedonism-is-bad memes.

Not very deadly, though.  That went out when the runér replaced the korásan, whose costly political intriguing and tendency to consider sabotaging and assassinating each other in the course of zero- or negative-sum games thoroughly discredited this sort of thing, so while ambition continues and The Game has been reinvented, most of the competition these days revolves around outdoing each other at deeds which, if not always useful, are at the least not harmful, and flaunting the size of one’s (artistic/scientific/commercial/other) clientele.