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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@...>:
>>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 ;) -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>