A little bit of Lisnäit 7: Numbers

Käsal Alisnot P : Näitäis
/’kæsal alis’not ep ‘nai̯tai̯s/
A little bit of Lisnäit 7: Numbers

Wait! Why is there a P instead of a “7”? Well, you’ve just been introduced to one of the features of Lisnäit numbers: that they are often written with letters. But that is far from being the only interesting thing about them!

Different languages treat numbers differently, most of them group quantities in tens (10), hundreds (10²), thousands (10³) and so on, so they are said to employ base-10 number systems. According to WALS (World Atlas of Language Structures, an excellent resource to find out statistics about linguistic features), 75% of the 196 examined for such purposes relied on base-10 number systems.

So, that’s a really common treat among natural languages… it’s not surprising that many conlangers seeking for originality use other bases. Even Tolkien did so! I would dare to say that base-12 is the most common as far as conlangs are concerned (base-20 is more common for natural languages). English speakers are used to this kind of system at some extent because of dozens. Additionally, a group of 12 can be split in 6 different ways (1 group of 12, 2 groups of 6, 3 of 4, 4 of 3, 6 of 2 and 12 of 1) which is a real advantage when dealing with fractions. This Wikipedia article may come in handy if you’re not familiarized with other numerical bases.

Lisnäit’s numbers are also base-12 (also known as duodecimal). The number 87, for example, wouldn’t be represented as 8×10+7 but as 73 (from now on I’ll use red for base-12 numbers) which would be read as seven dozens and three 7×12+3=84+3=87. Such a number in Lisnäit is epyes.

Numbers from 1 to 12 are often represented by a letter as seen on the very start of this post (P is the letter for seven). Numerals for multiples of 12 are made by combining that letter with the word ye (12, works in a similar fashion to the English ty as in seventy):

Number

Letter

Lisnäit number

×12

Lisnäit ×12

1

N

än

12, 10

ye

2

T

et

24, 20

etye

3

S

es

36, 30

esye

4

R

er

48, 40

erye

5

M

em

60, 50

mïye

6

K

ek

72, 60

ekye

7

P

ep

84, 70

epye

8

B

ebï

96, 80

bïye

9

W

ewï

108, 90

wïye

10

D

edï

120, A0

dïye

11

a’ï

132, B0

‘aye

12

Y

ye

144, 100

yeye’

Numbers (smaller than 143) which aren’t exact multiples of 12 are formed by combining words from the third and fifth columns: epye (84, 70) + es (3) → epyes (87, 73).

Numbers greater 144 but lesser than 288 are formed by adding yeye’ before the number -144:

200 (148) → yeye’ (144, 100) + erye (48, 40) + ebï (8) → yeye’eryebï

Numbers placed before yeye’ multiply it:

2011 (11B7) → yän (13, 11) × yeye’ (144, 100) + ‘ayep (139, B7) → yän-yeye’-‘ayep (13×144+139=2011)

(B = 11, using letters is a common practice when dealing with numerical bases higher than 10)

144 times 144 (144²=12⁴=20 736) isn’t written as yeye’-yeye’ but as he’:

One million: 1 000 00 → 402854 = 40 he’ + 28 ye’ + 54erye-he’-etyebï-yeye’-mïyet

For long numbers as the one above words such as he’ and yeye’ are often omitted: one million = erye-etyebï-mïyet (literally 40 28 54).

There is also a number for 12⁸ (429 981 696, he’ times he’): hihe’.

Powers of 12 would be like this:

Power of 12 Number (decimal)

Lisnäit

Notation

0

1

Än

N

1

12

Ye

Y

2

144

Yeye’

YY

3

1 728

Ye yeye’

YYY

4

20 736

He’

H

5

248 832

Ye he’

YH

6

2 985 984

Yeye’ he’

YYH

7

35 831 808

Ye yeye’ he’

YYYH

8

429 981 696

Hihe’

HH

9

~5,16×10⁹

Ye hihe’

YHH

10

~6,2×10¹⁰

Yeye’ hihe’

YYHH

11

~7.43×10¹¹

Ye yeye’ hihe’

YYYHH

12

~8,92×10¹²

He’ hihe’

HHH

Of course, larger numbers get too cumbersome so scientific notation would be used.

Numbers are written with the consonants associated with them (with the exception of a’ï (11, B) which uses A when written in Latin letters because the apostrophe could be easily overseen):

erye-he’-etyebï-yeye’-mïyet (one million) → RYHTYBYYMYT

Superfluous Y’s and H’s are left out: → RYTBMT. The Y of erye wasn’t erased because it would be confused with er otherwise. However, there’s no peril of confusion when shortening MYT to MT beacuse there’s only one possible read “mïyet“.

Note that this notation isn’t positional: 20000000B = THHA.

So… where is 0 after all??? Well, the Lisnäit word for our roundest number is u (which just means “no”), and it’s notation is U.

Another curiosity is that Lisnäit doesn’t have a word for pi but a word for 2π: Säik. Mathematics and science were developed in slightly different ways by Lisnäit speakers and they gave more importance to 2π than to π (which is not a bad idea..).

That’s all so far. The next piece of Lisnäit (or “käsal Alisnot“) will explain how Sikäitt, Lisnäit’s writing system works. Of course, the real Lisnäit numerals use Sikäitt letters, not Latin ones. See you!

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Posted on 2011/11/19, in English, Lisnäit (en). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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