From: | H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> |
---|---|

Date: | Thursday, July 18, 2002, 17:56 |

And now, for the second saga of Ebisedian numbers... First of all, the $10^6 question: what would a Bisedi say if you asked how many fingers he/she had? Well, that's a trick question. There's more than one correct answer. If he was male, he'd probably answer: 3Ta'gode3kekrejei. [@\"t_hagok&?@\k&kr`&dZ&?i] If she was female, she might answer: 3tako'de3kekrejei. [@\ta"kod&?@\k&kr`&dZ&?i] (Or, if she is the sociophobic type, she might retort with _ale's `yb0_, [?a"l&s Hy"bA] but we won't consider that possibility here.) It'll take the rest of this saga to explain this one. ;-) (If you haven't fainted at the X-SAMPA yet... boy, X-SAMPA sure has a way of making the most mundane answer to an innocuous question really scary.) CARDINALS --------- OK, so from the previous post, we've all learned that whole basic numbers and triads business. Those words aren't very useful in themselves, unless you're a mathematician. (But not even then---mathematicians would be using the "entity" form of those words instead. See later.) We want to be able to describe quantities with them. As is usual to many languages, there's a difference between cardinals and ordinals. Cardinals describe how many of something there are, and ordinals describe which position something is in, in an ordered list. Enough ado. Cardinals in Ebisedian are formed by taking the radix form of the noun being described, and prefixing it onto the number noun. For example: 3pii'z3dojei. [@\"pi:z@\dodZ&%?i] "Two men." Formed from 3- (plural prefix), pii'z3do- (radix of pii'z3di, "man"), -jei', "two". Another example: 3mango'jekrejei. [@\ma"NodZ&kr`&dZ&%?i] "Eighteen horses." (Literally, "two (groups of) nine horses".) Analysis: 3-, pl. pfx; mango'-, radix of _mangi'_ "horse"(*); -jekre'-, the 2nd triad (= 3^2 = 9); -jei', "two". Hence, "horses-second-triad-twice", i.e., (3^2*2) horses. NOTE(*): _mangi'_ isn't really a horse. It's a hexapedal, slender creature used for transportation. If this post were in Arabic, I'd translate it as "camel" instead. ;-) ORDINALS -------- Ordinals are constructed in the opposite manner to cardinals. The number word is prefixed, in radix form, to the noun being modified. Hence: keopii'z3di "the first man" (keo-, radix of "one", pii'z3di, "man") jekreojuli'r "the 9th house" kekredeotaa'dri "the 12th tree" (kekre-deo- = 3*4 = 12) Alright. We're just one more step away from deciphering the answer given by the man/woman at the top of this message. ADDITIVES --------- As some may have noticed, the system of base numbers and triads has gaps. For example, you can't express "10", "11", "13", or "17" using that system alone. What is needed is a way to *add* these triad multiples, in a way similar to our decimal system (123 = 3 + 10^2*2 + 10^3*1). The triad multiple system expresses a single "digit": 3^n*m. Now we just need to add these things together. In Ebisedian, additive numbers are composed from least-significant term first, to most-significant. For example, if we wanted to express the number 10, we could break it down as (10 = 1 + 3^2*1). We have _kei'_ for 1, and _jekre'kei_ for 3^2*1, which we can abbreviate to _jekre'i_ (3^2). So what we do, then, is to take the stem of _kei'_, which is _ke_, add the additive infix _3_, and then prefix it onto _jekre'i_. Thus, we obtain: ke3jekre'i. [k&?@\dZ&"kr`&?i] "Ten" (1+9). We can chain multiple "digits" together, too. For example, 16 decimal, which is 121 base 3 (1 + 3*2 + 9*1), can be rendered: ke3kekreje3jekre'i. [k&%?@\k&kr`&dZ&%@\dZ&"kr&?i] "16". Of course, you probably wouldn't hear a Bisedi say such a cumbersome word, especially not for a small number as 16. An alternative rendering is: ke3kekrePei'. [k&%?@\k&kr`&p_h&"?i] "16" (1 + 3^1*5). This is possible because of the amount of overlap between the different triad multiples. You may think of this as a base-3 system where each digit is allowed to go up to 9, instead of being restricted to 0--2, as would be the case in a mathematically "correct" base-3 system. And of course, these additive numbers behave just like the other numbers--we can make ordinals by prefixing them onto nouns, and we can make cardinals by prefixing nouns onto them. And thus, we can finally decipher the answers to the question given at the top of this message: 3Ta'gode3kekrejei. [@\"t_hagok&?@\k&kr`&dZ&?i] is 3- plural prefix Ta'go radix of Ta'gi, masculine of _tagi'_, "finger". de3 additive radix of "four" kekre- first triad, 3 jei' "two", acting here as the multiplicative factor of 3. Hence, this word means "(4+3*2) fingers", that is, "10 fingers". Why this odd breakdown? Mainly because the Ebisedi have two hands, and they think it's funny to count 9 fingers and add 1. They feel it's more "natural" to divide the fingers into 2 groups (the suffix -jei'), use the closest triad multiple (3), and then add the leftovers (4) to the total. After all, 2 and 4 are even numbers; 9 wouldn't be. And on to the woman's answer: 3tako'de3kekrejei. [@\ta"kod&?@\k&kr`&dZ&?i] This decomposes to: 3- plural prefix tako' radix of _taki'_, feminine of _tagi'_, "finger" de3 4 kekre 3 jei' 2. Why would a man and a woman give different answers? Because the Ebisedi make a distinction between male and female body parts. The root word for "finger", _tagi'_, is an epicene noun, which is used to refer to fingers in general. But men have _3Ta'gi_ (male fingers), whereas women have _3taki'_ (lady-fingers). Referring to a woman's fingers as _3Ta'gi_ could well earn you a resounding slap, since _3Ta'gi_ are obviously not as refined and elegant as _3takii'_. :-) T -- The peace of mind--from knowing that viruses which exploit Microsoft system vulnerabilities cannot touch Linux--is priceless. -- Frustrated system administrator.

JS Bangs <jaspax@...> |