CHAT sedecimal (was: Graeco-Latin hybrids)
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Friday, October 21, 2005, 18:43|
Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Quoting R A Brown <ray@...>:[snip]
>>Humph - altho we have _sexaginta_ (60), _sexagesimus_ (60th) etc, the
>>use of -a- as an infix between 'sex' and another morpheme is not
>>productive in Latin. The Latin for 16 is 'sedecim'.
> Well, I suppose that explains why one of my programming textbooks insisted on
> writing 'sedecimal' instead of 'hexadecimal'.
It does indeed :)
I must confess I had not encountered 'sedecimal' before, but Google has
given me 526 hits.
Altho the formative suffix -al is usually appended to stems derived from
Latin ordinals (e.g. decimal, duodecimal, vigesimal, sexagesimal), this
is not always so as we see with the strangely formal 'octal' - formed
neither from the cardinal number, which gives octoal(1), nor from the
ordinal which gives us octaval(2). Certainly 'sedecimal' is better
formed than the odd 'octal'.
(1) _octoal_ apparently is sometimes used instead of the 'octal'; but
most hits refer to the name of a beach resort in Costa Rica ;)
(2) _octaval_ is far more common - more than 750+ hits - and my
dictionary lists it as:
"pertaining to an octave; based on the number eight."
..and, yes, it is sometimes used to denote a number system based on 8 -
and I've only skimmed through the first 40 hits.
There is actually no precedent that I know of in Classical Latin for
deriving adjectives in -alis from numerals; also if the Romans happily
said and wrote _undecimus_ and _duodecimus_ (and they did so), might not
*sedecimus have actually occurred? It may well be that it is only by
chance that we have no actual record of it, and have only the more
long-winded _sextus decimus_ forms.
Personally, I find _sedecimal_ much more preferable to the ghastly
hybrid 'hexadecimal' and it is not likely to arouse all those strange
urges that, apparently, 'sextidecimal' does ;)
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