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Re: [Fwd: dozenal and hexadecimal digits]

From: Raymond Brown Sunday, May 14, 2000, 11:41
```At 2:31 pm -0400 13/5/00, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond Brown scripsit:
>
>> I never coined words for 12^3 (a dozen gross), but Wells' "dozand" _looks_
>> attractive; however, would it _sound_ different enough from 'dozen"?
>
>I was thinking that "douzand" would be better.
Much better - nice portmantaeu of 'dozen' & 'thousand'  :)

>
>> But now, of course, it's hexadecimal [took me a time to get used to
>> misformed Graeco-Latin compound!]
>
>Blame IBM marketing.  The technical folks used "sexidecimal" quite
>properly, but it wasn't allowed out of the lab due to the supposed
>prurient implication.
<groan>
- tho maybe 'sextidecimal' is better.  Indeed, as Tacitus actually used the
legion (sexta decima legio) and the Latin for 1/16 is 'sexta decima
(pars)', one could well argue IMO for 'sextadecimal', and this is the form
I give below.

>W.v.O. Quine, the philosopher, objected to "binary"; he claimed the
>proper equivalent of "decimal" was "dimidial".  Sounds good to me.
He is, of course, strictly correct about his claim - but I disagree about
his objection.

Yep - 'decimal' is derived from 'decima (pars)' = 0.1 or 1/10. It describes
a number system where is place rightwards is 1/10 the value of its
left-hand neighbor.  Thus a system where each place rightwards is 1/2 the
value of its left-hand neighbor is strictly, as Quine says, 'dimidial'  <--
dimidium = 0.5, 1/2.

Tho I hesitate to disagree with Quine, I see no objection to 'binary' (<--
bi:na:rius = "containing two, consisting of two" <-- bi:ni" = "two each,
two at a time"); it's properly derived & fits well with ternary,
quaternary, etc.  One could well argue IMHO that 'denary' (<-- de:na:rius),
as some use, is not a better name for for base-10 numbers.

But 'dimidial point' is IMHO a far, far, far better term for the point in,
say, 1011.101 (= 11.625) than "bicimal" - actually pretty well any term is
better than that!

The truth is we use a mixed system with some words derived from the
'fraction' word (decimal <-- decima) and some from , and same quite
improperly formed, e.g. octal.  And, of course, there's always the Greek

The properly derived forms would be:
FROM LATIN         FROM LATIN      FROM
.          ....              ....            ....

'vicesimal' would be more correctly derived from Latin 'uicesima (pars)' =
1/20.  But, tho my dictionary does give 'vicesimal' as an alternative to
'vigesimal', I fear the latter is too entrenched in the language now.

in north America, I assume  :)

But, hey, natural languages are not meant to be consistent, are they?  And
English is certainly not.  When all's said and done, 'hexadecimal' is
probably no more an 'unnatural' mix of Greek & Latin than 'television'; and
if I can live with the latter, I guess I can live with 'hexadecimal'.

Anyone for teleorasis?   :)

Ray.