|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, October 22, 2005, 7:40|
Mark J. Reed wrote:
> Indeed. It seems that "sextidecimal" may have been the actual rejected
> form. My apologies for spreading misinformation, if such it was.
I don't think you need apologize. I too have seen references to
'sexadecimal' being rejected by IBM in the 1960s IIRC. I've also seen
references to 'sexidecimal' and 'sextidecimal' - but these seem to me to
be less specific. My impression is that some 40+ years later, some
apocryphal stories have crept in amongst the true ones :)
Continued browsing has thrown up yet another variant: hexadecadic!
Now all the morphemes in _hexadecadic_ are derived from Greek - but the
assemblage is weird. *hexadikadikos would surely mean "pertaining to six
groups of ten".
The ancient Greek for 16 was 'hekkaideka' and a collective noun
'hekkaidekas' (genitive: hekkaidekados) is attested. That would give the
adjective 'hekkaidekadikos' which would be Latinized as
'heccaedecadicus'. But for some reason, I don't think *heccaedicadic or
an Americanized *heccedecadic would catch on ;)
Oh dear - sedecimal, sexadecimal, sexidecimal, sextidecimal,
hexadecimal, hexadecadic, *heccedecadic........
As Mark J. Reed also wrote:
> It's hardly a given
> that any name would be so treated; after all, one hardly ever hears the
> corresponding abbreviations of "decimal", "octal", or "binary". It's
> true that "sextidecimal" is rather more unwieldy than any of those, but
> I suspect it would get abbreviated to "sexti" rather than "sex".
>  Odd collection of words, isn't it? "binary" comes from a
> distributional number, "decimal" from an ordinal number, and "octal" .
> . . well, "octal" is just weird.
Yes, the whole thing is a bit of a mess really. We have the -ary words
derived from Latin distributional numbers. These in fact hark back to
Classical formations, cf.
bini (pl) "two each" --> binarius "consisting of two"
terni (pl) "three each" --> ternarius "consisting of three"
Such adjectives exist both in English and Latin right up to
The English 'unary' is an analogical formation. The Latin for 'one each"
is _singuli_ from which was derived 'singularius' "consisting of one".
But I can well understand why 'unary' is preferred to *singulary!
We also a full set, so to speak, for 1 to 10 derived from Greek
monas "a unit" (group of 1!) --> monadic
dyas "a group of 2" --> dyadic
trias "a group of 3" --> triadic
Then there are, as Mark says, the odd forms derived from Latin ordinals
with the formative suffix -al:
decimus "10th" --> decimal
duodecimus "12th" -->duocecimal
vigesimus "20th" --> vigesimal
And of course the just weird "octal" - besides the four 'well-formed'
alternatives: _octonary_, _octaval_, _octadic_ and _ogdoadic_.
Yep, even in ancient Greek we find both 'ogdoas' (earlier) and 'oktas'
(later) = "group of 8" :)
I recall a similar thread on this list a few years back, with
contributions from John Cowan.
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