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"cha'maH wej vI' wej pagh Soch"

Translation:twenty-three point three zero seven

November 23, 2018

9 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fad23
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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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ladifaahri

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ladifaahri

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ladifaahri

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

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.

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