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LilliLitha
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LilliLitha
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Joined: 12:31 AM - Sep 18, 2018

6:46 PM - Sep 22, 2018 #1

Well, where to begin?

I've been interested in alternative systems of measurement and number notation for a long, long time. Ever since I was in primary school I thought about why did we use base ten for numbers, when it was obvious that there were other options? I thought octal could be better than decimal in very important ways and even imagined people in other parts of world used octal as their common base. Of course, in other nations there are different cultures, different ways of thinking, so it seemed sensible to believe other number bases were among those differences. But eventually, I would discover that in nearly every nation on Earth, not only "developed" nations like Western Europe, Canada, Japan, USA etc. but also less developed nations like in Africa and southeast Asia, arithmetic is nearly always done in the decimal base! That came as a great surprise to me, how could all these people agree on decimal? I thought maybe Western imperialism/colonialism was behind the spread of decimal around the world, but further research into linguistics revealed that even in most languages of non-Western preindustrial societies, the number words were predominantly decimal, with a few being partly vigesimal. At that point, I was just totally amazed, in shock, how could decimal arise so many times independently in languages, but octal and dozenal are outright rarities? It made almost no sense to me, yes I know (with a few exceptions) humans have ten fingers and ten toes, but why would that have anything to do with the common number base? When I learned to count and do basic arithmetic, I don't ever remember using finger count at all. I had many objects to visualize and compare quantities that I never bothered to fall back on counting by fingers. So what was different about preindustrial societies that would encourage people to count by fingers?

Now, to this day I've mostly rolled along with decimal and just tried to work with it the best I can. But I can still agree that dozenal, and even octal bases could be much better. Perhaps sometime in the not-so-distant future there may arise opportunities to convert to octal or dozenal for common use, complete with a metric system of the same base. Maybe not on a global scale, but more like cities or regions small enough to convert to another number base or use alongside decimal, but big enough they could sustain themselves without foreign influence that would demand conformity with the decimal base or suppression of non-decimal bases.

Anyway this message is getting long so I'll cut out here, and save my thoughts for another time. Cheers\(*⌒0⌒)♪
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Kodegadulo
Obsessive poster
Kodegadulo
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Joined: 11:27 PM - Sep 10, 2011

7:00 PM - Sep 22, 2018 #2

Welcome. LilliLitha!  You make good points. However, I think your idea about dozenal gaining a foothold in some small, isolated societies would be hard, but not because of any kind of cultural imperialism, I think. These days, any society that voluntarily isolated itself from lucrative global trade and enriching cultural exchange with their neighbors would rapidly commit economic suicide.

We do have multiple examples of "dozenal-metric" systems all worked out here, though. 🙂
As of 1202/03/01[z]=2018/03/01[d] I use:
ten,eleven = ↊↋, ᘔƐ, ӾƐ, XE or AB.
Base-neutral base annotations
Systematic Dozenal Nomenclature
Primel Metrology
Western encoding (not by choice)
Greasemonkey + Mathjax + PrimelDozenator
(Links to these and other useful topics are in my index post;
click on my user name and go to my "Website" link)
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icarus
Dozens Demigod
icarus
Dozens Demigod
Joined: 12:29 PM - Apr 11, 2006

9:56 PM - Sep 23, 2018 #3

Welcome to the forum!!
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Shaun
Dozens Disciple
Shaun
Dozens Disciple
Joined: 4:09 PM - Aug 02, 2005

5:25 AM - Sep 25, 2018 #4

It was the recurring decimal 0.333 ... of the third that I found most irritating, and being brought up with £sd and a shilling with twelve pence, the idea of a third being 0.4 in dozenal appealed to me.

Welcome to the Forum!
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Neme5is
Casual Member
Neme5is
Casual Member
Joined: 8:17 AM - Sep 29, 2018

5:48 AM - Oct 01, 2018 #5

Right from primary school? There cant be many children of primary school age who think about the system they use.
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Kodegadulo
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Kodegadulo
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Joined: 11:27 PM - Sep 10, 2011

9:57 AM - Oct 01, 2018 #6

Neme5is wrote: Right from primary school? There cant be many children of primary school age who think about the system they use.
Why not? Even primary schoolers these days get some exposure to computer concepts, and that would bring in binary, along with octal and/or hexadecimal. All it would take is a bright and questioning mind to wonder why things are the way they are. Neme5is, are you saying you don't believe LilliLitha's story about getting interested that young, or are you complimenting her on being exceptional?

LillILitha, I think there have been some cultures that have used bases other than ten and twenty. Of course, there's the Mesopotamian base sixty that we still have the legacy of. But there's also been some mention here of ethnic groups in central Africa that use bases six and/or twelve. But I'm not as up on that topic as other members here, maybe they can chime in.

It's still true (and regrettable) that it's hard for any culture to hold onto a peculiar base when the whole rest of the world is so thoroughly decimal. Kind of a reason why I'm so adamant about not making the choice of base a zero-sum, either-or proposition. Multinumeracy (being "multilingual" about bases, as it were) is what we should be advocating.
As of 1202/03/01[z]=2018/03/01[d] I use:
ten,eleven = ↊↋, ᘔƐ, ӾƐ, XE or AB.
Base-neutral base annotations
Systematic Dozenal Nomenclature
Primel Metrology
Western encoding (not by choice)
Greasemonkey + Mathjax + PrimelDozenator
(Links to these and other useful topics are in my index post;
click on my user name and go to my "Website" link)
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Neme5is
Casual Member
Neme5is
Casual Member
Joined: 8:17 AM - Sep 29, 2018

7:46 PM - Oct 01, 2018 #7

Kodegadulo wrote:

 Neme5is, are you saying you don't believe LilliLitha's story about getting interested that young, or are you complimenting her on being exceptional?
Maybe I will tell her if she asks me.
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