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CHAT sedecimal

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: [snip] > 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"[1]. 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". [snip] > [1] 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" etc. Such adjectives exist both in English and Latin right up to 'denarius'/'denary'. 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 collective nouns: monas "a unit" (group of 1!) --> monadic dyas "a group of 2" --> dyadic trias "a group of 3" --> triadic etc 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 etc. 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. Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY