Friday, January 29, 2016

The Kai'us Numbering System

(Sorry for the crazy formatting, not quite sure why it's coming out that way...)

For those who don't know (which would be everyone except maybe one or two of you) the Kai'us numbering system has given me heartburn for years (approaching decades really). You'd think it'd be easy: Kai'us' have four digits on each hand (three fingers and a thumb), so it's always made sense that their numbers would be based on fours and eights instead of our fives and tens.

Wanting to make my life as easy as possible I decided to give them just four numbers: meu, leu, deu & sheu
Written as such:
/ = meu (1)
// = leu (2)
/// = deu (3)
//// = sheu (4)
Not too complicated.

Wanna go past that? Add a dot after the character:
/• = meu'ah (5)
//• = leu'ah (6)
///• = deu'ah (7)
////• = sheu'ah (8)

9-12 have the dot (and the "ah" sound) in front, and 13-16 have a dot in both the front and end of the character (so 16 would be •////• "ah'sheu'ah")

All of that's been the same since college.
Easy-peasy; but what to do from there?
Add prefixes!!

This is where things get flaky 'cause I can do anything from this point (and I have). 
The pattern for the first sixteen numbers was always set to repeat but with lines added to the tops and/or bottoms of the numbers; I just never devised a good system that was easy for me to remember. Also what to call those prefixes proved difficult as I always came up with just random labels that I'd never remember.
Finally though, I came up with a method for identifying and writing out the remaining numbers that I think will actually stick in my brain and make my life easier.
(Keep in mind that these numbers hardly ever show up in the stories, I've just always felt it important to understand thoroughly and completely how Kai-us' handle numbers and math.)
After the first set of sixteen numbers you're going to add a line along the top, and the syllable "Lee" to the beginning of the number.

Yeah, 30 gets to be a mouthful, but this is much higher than most Kai'us' can count. Most only need to get up to sixteen in their day-to-day life; after that there's nouns that translate to things like "many" and "many-many" that change in quantity depending on the context and what you're "counting".
33-48 are going to do the same thing, but the line will be along the bottom. 
The prefix for that set is "Du".
The "final" set (49-64) will have a slash going up from the bottom connecting with the first slash of the actual number:

 The prefix is called "Sha"

So 64 would be "ah'sha'sheu'ah" (sounds like a dance) and it would look like this:

The dot can go inside the triangle if you so choose.

The beauty of all this is the naming convention.
The first set of 16 numbers has no prefix.
The second set has the syllable "Lee", as in "leu", as in the number 2 ("Lee" is also a prefix that goes before a noun to make it plural).
The third set uses "Du"; "deu"; 3. Also "u" is the next vowel in all the base numbers.
Fourth set is "Sha"; "sheu"; 4. The "ah" sound is the next vowel to arrive in the number system.

So nicely and simply we've gotten 64 numbers all named and labeled in a way that I'm sure to remember.
Let's keep going.

The next set of 64 numbers will all be named the same, but will have "O" in the beginning.
"O-" in the Kai'us language is a prefix to denote that something is holy, divine or really big.
As far as Kai'us society goes, we're talking really big numbers now.

The written prefix for the numbers 65-80 is two lines pointing outward, one at the top and one at the bottom. It's more or less a closing bracket ( ] ). So 65 is pronounced "o'meu".
The highest number before this prefix changes is •]|||• and is "ah'o'sheu'ah" (80)
You can also put the "o" in front if you like. 
Doing this starts to sound like "wa" so this set can also be pronounced that way as well once the "ah"s start to get involved.

Set number two (81-96) will have a line coming off the top of the first slash pointing outward (rather like a 7). The Prefix is "o'lee"
The third set (97-112) has the line coming off the bottom. "O'du"
The fourth set is an upside-down "sha" (a "V" in other words) and so is "o'sha". 
This gets us up to 128.

From here you can stop.
Even the Grand Chief rarely needs to count much higher than that.

If for some wild and crazy reason though you need yet another set of sixteen numbers, you're in luck.
129-144 is denoted with a line at the top and a line at the bottom pointing inward (like an opening bracket [ only longer).
This prefix is called "o'shee".

This is going to be a source of humor for those who know the name of my first WoW character which was "Oshemeu". Using pigeon Kai'us this translates to "Great One". "O-" for really big or divine; "she" is the word for "big"; and "meu" is obviously "one".
(Using correct grammar though the name "Great One" would come out as "Mu-o-she" - "One who is Great"; but that doesn't roll off the tongue quite as nicely)
Taking this new system into account though, "o'shee'meu" is the number 129.

The interesting thing is this loops around nicely.
Remove those lines and suddenly you're back to the beginning. If you need specific numbers past that you'll just have to start adding numbers together.
The general rule is to start with the highest number that's divisible by 16 (which would be 128 or 144 typically) and add the number that gets you the rest of the way; but a person is welcome to get creative and mash together whatever two numbers will get you there based on their aesthetics.

Two hundred for instance could be broken down in many ways, but would likely be conveyed as "ah'o'she'sheu'ah esh sha'sheu'ah" which translates to "144 and 56".

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