This poem was originally inspired by the following passage in
Chapter II of The Analects by Kǒng Fūzi or Master Kong:
[in simplified Chinese characters:]
Wú shíyǒuwǔ ér zhì yú xué,
sānshí ér lì,
sìshí ér bú huò,
wǔshí ér zhī tiān mìng,
liùshí ér ěr shùn,
qīshí ér cóng xīn suǒ yù, bù yú jǔ.
[translated by me as literally as possible:]
When i was fifteen i wanted to study;
at thirty i established myself;
at forty i was not confused anymore;
at fifty i knew what heavenly life meant;
at sixty my ears would obey;
at seventy i followed my heart's desire, without breaking the rule.
For more information see https://en.wikiquote.org/[ ]wiki/Confucius,
where an alternative, freer translation can be found.
Note that the very last word in the above passage, 矩 or jǔ,
does not only mean rule, but also carpenter's square.
In Latin the word for a carpenter's square is norma, from which
the word norm derives, which, like 矩, refers to a rule or
principle of right action as well.
The Chinese character script is not bicameral in that it has two
cases, an upper case (capitals) and a lower case (small letters);
the Latin script is.
In general, in the latter script and in
This Language in particular,
capitals are used at the beginning of a sentence and for names.
Hence, i use the small i as the personal pronoun to refer to
myself where it is the subject of a clause but not the first word of
I cannot repeat it often enough, it seems: i do not consider myself a,
let alone The, Supreme Being or anything else of that Ilk.
The new numerical terms used in the poem for the number 80 of the
denary ('decimal') system are part of a macrobinary system of
numbers and universally human systematic 'names' developed by me in
an as yet unpublished manuscript.
The system is called "macrobinary", because it is based on the
powers of two in general (especially on two and sixteen), rather than
on two itself only (which, in that capacity, can be referred to as
the base of a 'microbinary' system).
For the vocabulary of numbers we may confine ourselves to the minimum
and look at 8 as 8 (that is, no more than itself in a denary system)
and at 80 as 8x10.
But since, for example, 82=8x10+2x1, we can also look at 80 as
On the basis of such a regular variation in viewpoints there may be
more than one verbal expression for numbers in the macrobinary system.
Of the expressions for the denary number 80 tosa mu is the
elementary and informal one; tosa suten is more general and
formal, because it makes use of the morpheme su which is
required for numbers larger than 255; and tosa suten ma suman
is the most general and formal variant of the three.
Whereas the 'names' of numbers are traditionally plain, if not boring,
expressions, in the most formal binary ones among them arithmetic and
verbal art meet to create uncommon beauty in simplicity.
Given no more and no fewer than the phonemes of This Language tosa
suten ma suman would be pronounced |TOH-SAH su-TEIN MAH su-MAHN|
with |soo| as an alternative for |su|.
The primary stress in tosa would be on the second syllable,
but if the context calls for it, it may be on the first.
Just like su, also mu (10 in what denarians call 'the
hexadecimal system', that is, 16 denary) may be variously pronounced
|MU| or |MOO|.
(For an explanation of this representation of the phonemes in the
present language see my
Vocabulary of Alliteration.)