Interlac, the putative lingua franca of 30th & 31st century United Planets’ (and larger) known space, is loads of fun! We know that it isn’t a “real” language. It isn’t even code. It’s English, couched in your basic symbol substitution cipher. But its presence in panel backgrounds gives the stories an additional other-worldly flavor. For those of us who are so motivated, reading the “hidden” messages provides even more entertainment. The presence of Interlac, like any other “Oestre Egg,” should never detract from the story, nor materially contribute to the plot or action. For those with the wit to pick them up, however, these “eggs” can provide a lot of extra fun!
Interlac numerals, as originally presented, are a problem. The first three make sense, but after that they break down. Since Legion stories are literary events, and not mathematical treatises, the silly numerals were a tiny problem, if any problem at all. Still, they are inelegant and inconsistent and an affront to obsessive math geeks. The apparent similarities between the Interlac 6,7,42,and 43, for example, betray fundamental flaws.
My personal “retcon” solution is to assert that (in continuo) Interlac is derived from Coluan, and that their number system happens to be base four, or “quartal” rather than decimal or octal or hexagecimal. Serious (ly bent) arithmetricians often argue that bases twelve or sixteen offer greater computational efficiency than our own decimal system, and the field of datics bears this out, at least in re hex. I stipulate that Coluans, for whatever reasons of their own, developed a base four system, as presented above.
While “quartal” is as sound a construction as octal or decimal, I like “Quartalac,’ as it gives the name more of an Interlackian rhythm. Also, the extra weight helps it stand up to Hindu-Arabic’s superior syllabic firepower.
The English transliterations of the symbols shown are as follows:
One, two, tri, for, fyv, sik, sen, ayt, nyn, ten, leven, dozen, trizen, tetrin, pentin, sissin, sissin one, sissin for, sissin ayt, twosis, trissis,
sekki, tekki, trikki, qwarkay, haykay, sesqway, kay, twokay.
Symbols not shown are trikay and beyond. The alert reader can probably easily imagine the look of the trikay. For numbers larger than trikay sesqway trikki trissis pentin, the multiplier would appear above or to the left of the kay, there would be no mulitplier inside, and the remaining sum less than kay would be below or to the right. For orders greater than kay we can look to the Interlac alphabet, and apply the same protocol of small enough multipliers inside the symbol, or blossoming out the left or top as needs be. Rather than spell out all 26 (sissin ten) letters, I’ll just say that the next three after kay — Mega (kay kay), Giga (mega mega), and Tera (giga giga) — should be both obvious and sufficient. Perhaps only the Coluans themselves (or Sardath of Rann) ever trouble with computing a Zillion.