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  5. "cha'maH wej vI' wej pagh Soc…

"cha'maH wej vI' wej pagh Soch"

Translation:twenty-three point three zero seven

November 23, 2018


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Just wondering, in English decimal this might be read as twenty-three and 307 thousandths. Is Klingon math in decimal units? How would this be written as above?


In English you could say that, but very few people would. Almost every application in English would be the same as the Klingon.

Klingon math is decimal. The Klingon Dictionary explains that Klingon math used to be based on a "ternary" system. Not base three, but a system without zero as a place holder. The progression would be one, two, three, one three plus one, one three plus two, one three plus three, two threes plus one, two threes plus two, two threes plus three, three threes plus one, three threes plus two, three threes plus three, "and then it got complicated" (we don't know what came next).

Klingons, we are told, adopted decimal numbers to assimilate with the technology of the rest of the galaxy, which apparently were all using a decimal system.

We know next to nothing about Klingon fractions. We know how to say bID half, but that's about it.


vatlhvI' "percent" is also known.

Which has lead some people wonder whether, say, SochvI' has a meaning (such as "one seventh"). But I imagine that would be like extrapolating the English word "percent" to "persept" using the Latin roots.


As I understood it, it continued in the same pattern and using 13 as slang for complicated was only due to it being long and cumbersome from there on. At least that's how Litaer explains it in his Klingon course for German speakers.


The same pattern? What do you think came after three threes plus three? If Lieven said that, he's making it up. All we know is "it got complicated."


The pattern being base three..? So next would be 'three × three + one × three + one' .

I just checked the book and it is only stated implicit, but the whole deal with using a base three system is really weird, if you stop at the power of two, as would be stopping to use decimal at a hundred?


It's not base three. Base three has zeroes; this system does not. Okrand calls it a "ternary" system.

If the next number is three threes plus three plus one, then that's not actually all that complicated. You just invent a new word for three threes plus three. One foo plus one, one foo plus two, and so on all the way to three foos plus three threes plus three. But we don't know any of those other words, if this is what was done.

Uninformed speculation on a system that isn't even used anymore isn't terribly useful. Fortunately we have lots of information on the decimal system that is used.


Zeros are not necessary - take for example the roman numerals. And that it is <sub>complicated</sub> from there on heavily implies, that they didn't just use another word, so it would make sense.

And sorry, but I find calling it uniformed speculation a bit condescending and while yes, I agree that it isn't terribly useful, so is learning a fictional language. Have a nice evening.


It is uninformed speculation, for both of us. We don't have any information beyond "it got complicated," so we are uninformed. And we are only speculating.

I'm not saying you don't know what you're talking about. I'm saying you don't know, I don't know, Lieven doesn't know. I'm sure even Marc Okrand doesn't know, and never decided anything about that. "It got complicated" is a joke, along the lines of explaining how Klingons changed their appearance with "We do not discuss it with outsiders." It's a deflection with a wink and a nudge. It means "Don't take this bit seriously."

As for "useful," that's constrained to the realm of learning Klingon: if you want to learn or use Klingon, you don't need to know anything about how the ternary number system worked. It's just a historical footnote.


I thought the dot dot dot after the last number let us know that the same pattern continues. When the book said after that it got complicated, I didn't think that referred to how whole numbers worked but rather how the rest of the math worked aside from whole numbers.


In The Klingon Dictionary we are given a brief description of how Klingon numbers USED to work. They don't work that way anymore. "And then it got complicated" refers to what the number system did after it reached three threes plus three. What comes after three threes plus three? Don't worry about it; it's complicated.


I don't know why I wrote decimals. I meant to put whole numbers. I edited that. I'm not awake yet. I also screwed up my batch of cookies this morning. Same recipe I have made fifty times. I left the egg out. The egg was sitting on the counter right in front of me too. I had to make the cookies twice. My brain is not working at all today.

How do we know "And then it got complicated" refers to what the number system did after "three threes plus three" and not to math aside from the number system? I didn't read it that way. I thought the dot dot dot meant that the number system continues in that pattern and that the rest of what their math was like is unknown.


There is no ellipsis in the section on numbers. Here is the quote:

Klingon originally had a ternary number system; that is, one based on three. Counting proceeded as follows: 1, 2, 3; 3+1, 3+2, 3+3; 2×3+1, 2×3+2, 2×3+3; 3×3+1, 3×3+2, 3×3+3; and then it got complicated. In accordance with the more accepted practice, the Klingon Empire sometime back adopted a decimal number system, one based on ten. Though no one knows for sure, it is likely that this change was made more out of concern for understanding the scientific data of other civilizations than out of a spirit of cooperation.

As a simple matter of reading comprehension, this means the "it got complicated" refers to how counting continued after 3×3+3. The paragraph hadn't yet even introduced the concept of a decimal number system, let alone the rest of Klingon math.


Thanks for clarifying that.


In English you could say twenty three and three hundred seven thousanths, but people don't because it's a little weird. However, when dealing with fractional numbers, engineers are more likely to say two three point three zero seven. than twenty three point three zero seven. It seems strange to me that Klingons would adapt weird fractional decimalizations but eschew zeroes in counting numbers (Klingons eschew zeros in numbers like 10005).

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